Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 10, 1688-1693. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.
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Martis, 13 die Augusti; 1° Willielmi et Mariæ.
Proceedings respecting Titus Oates.
MR. Solicitor General reports from the Committee, to whom it was referred, to prepare Reasons for a Conference with the Lords, for the settling the Method of Proceedings, between the Two Houses, upon Conferences, and free Conferences; That the Committee had prepared the same accordingly: The which he read in his Place; and afterwards, delivered the same in at the Clerk's Table: Where the same were read; and are as followeth:
The Commons have desired This Conference, upon the Subject Matter of the Message, sent by your Lordships the One-and-thirtieth of July last; to acquaint them, That your Lordships had adhered to your Amendments, proposed to be made to the Bill, for reversing Two Judgments given in the Court of King's Bench against Titus Oates, Clerk.
Writs of Error were brought before your Lordships, in order to reverse the Judgments given against Oates upon Two Indictments, for Perjury: By which Judgments, He was to be divested of his Canonical Habits; and to continue so divested during his Life: He was yearly, during his Life, to be set in the Pillory several times, at divers publick Places: He was to be imprisoned during Life: Was to be whipped, from Aldgate to Newgate, one Day; and, from thence to Tyburn, another Day: And was fined One thousand Marks.
Proceedings respecting Titus Oates.
The Precedents being of such dangerous Consequence to every English Subject, the Commons thought themselves under a Necessity of sending up a Bill to your Lordships, in order to have these Judgments reversed by Act of Parliament: In which Bill, the Judgments are called erroneous, illegal, cruel, and of evil Example to future Ages.
The Words which concern the Annulling of the Judgments given by the House of Peers upon the Writs of Error, are omitted: And a Clause is added, That, till the Matters for which Oates was convicted be heard and determined in Parliament, he should not be received for a Witness, or to give Evidence, in any Court or Cause.
The Reasons given by your Lordships not being satisfactory to the Commons, a free Conference was desired, and had the Twenty-ninth of July: At which it was owned, by your Lordships, That the whole House of Peers was satisfied, that the Judgments given in the King's Bench were erroneous and extravagant; and the Punishment so exorbitant, as ought not to be inflicted on an English Subject; and also, that you would not enter into a Debate with them, whether an erroneous Judgment must not necessarily be illegal: But yet your Lordships did declare, That, upon the Writs of Error, you had chosen to affirm the Judgments, rather than Oates should be restored to his Testimony; which must have been the Consequence of the Reversal.
First, Because, by this Vote of Adhering generally, your Lordships do depart from what was yielded to upon the free Conference; at which (as the Commons did apprehend) some of the Amendments were waved by your Lordships.
Because your Lordships have proceeded to Adhere upon the First free Conference: Which they look upon to be irregular; at least, to be contrary to the ordinary Course of Proceedings between the two Houses (especially, if such Adhering should be looked upon as conclusive); it being well known to your Lordships, That it is usual to have Two free Conferences, or more, before either House proceeds to Adhere. And, as it is the Course of Parliaments, so it is suitable to the Nature of the Things, that there should be no Adhering till after Two free Conferences at the least; because, before That Time, each House is not fully possessed of the Reasons, upon which the other does proceed; nor have the Houses had the full Opportunity of making Replies to one another's Arguments: And, to Adhere sooner, is to exclude all Possibility of offering Expedients.
This Method, of Adhering so suddenly and unexpectedly, draws very ill Consequences after it, as appears by what has happened this Sessions; the additional Poll Bill having been lost, to the great Prejudice of the Crown, by your Lordships Adhering upon the First free Conference. The Bill of Rights (in which your Lordships, as well as the Commons, are highly concerned), by this quick way of Adhering, now put in Use by your Lordships, is in Danger to be lost. And no Inconveniences can be greater than what must follow the Loss of this Bill, if your Lordships should take yourselves to be concluded, by Adhering upon the First free Conference.
For the Commons think it is not to be denied, That, in Proceedings in your Judicial Capacity upon Writs of Error, your Lordships are as much bound to give Judgment upon the Record, according to the strict Rules of Law, as any inferior Court whatsoever; and ought not to enter into the Consideration of Persons, or collateral Respects.
That, for your Lordships to assume a discretionary Power to affirm a Judgment, though at the same time you agree it to be erroneous, is to assume a Power to make Law, instead of judging according to the Rules of Law.
That, when the Commons send up a Bill to your Lordships, in order to prevent the Mischiefs of such destructive Precedents, for your Lordships to refuse to reverse these Judgments (though confessed to be erroneous), unless upon such Terms as you are pleased to impose, and to which the Commons cannot in Reason agree, is to leave the Kingdom without Redress against acknowledged Wrongs.
It is recorded, to the Honour of your noble Ancestors, That they declared they would not change the Laws: And the Commons hope you will pursue their Steps; and not, by affirming erroneous Judgments, go about to make That Law, which was not so before; and, by insisting upon collateral Terms before you will reverse those Judgments in the Legislative way, take to yourselves, in Effect, the whole Power of the Legislature: Which is, not only to change the Law, but to subvert the Constitution of the Government, if your Lordships should insist upon such a way of Proceeding, and the Commons should acquiesce in it.
The Commons do therefore hope your Lordships will not insist upon this unusual Method of Adhering; which manifestly tends to the Interruption of a good Correspondence between the Two Houses (the Lords and Commons having frequently agreed upon the Second and Third free Conference, when they could not upon the First); especially at so unseasonable a time, when an intire Agreement between the Two Houses is of such absolute Necessity for the Establishment of the Government, and for the Peace and Safety of the Kingdom.
Resolved, That a Message be sent to the Lords, to desire a Conference with them, upon the Subject Matter of their Lordships Message, the One-and-thirtieth of July last, concerning their Lordships Adhering to their Amendments to the Bill for reversing Two Judgments given in the Court of King's Bench, against Titus Oates.
Ordered, That Mr. Speaker do grant his Warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, to issue out a new Writ to the Sheriff of the County of Devon, for the Election of a Burgess to serve in this present Parliament, for the Borough of Clifton Dartmouth Hardnesse, in the room of Charles Boone, Esquire, deceased.
A Petition of the Bailiffs, Wardens, Assistants, and Commonalty of the Company of Weavers London; and the Master and Wardens of the Company of Weavers at Canterbury, in Behalf of themselves, and others in England, was read; setting forth, That, they thankfully acknowlege, that, upon their humble Petition praying to be heard touching the Bill for enjoining the Wear of Woollen Manufacture, they were referred to the Committee to whom the Bill was referred, who have not yet been pleased to hear the Petitioners: And praying, That they may be heard at the Bar of the House, before the Bill shall pass.
Securing Government against Papists.
Ordered, That the Committee to whom the Bill for securing the Government against Papists, and other disaffected Persons, is referred, be revived; and do sit this Afternoon: And that Mr. Forester, Mr. Gwyn, Mr. Arnold, Mr. Reynell, Sir Rob. Rich, Mr. White, Colonel Austen, Mr. Buckly, Sir Tho. Barnadiston, Sir Wm. Poultny, Sir Rob. Cotton, Mr. Sherrard, be added to the Committee.
Complaint against Lt. Col. Copley.
Then the Petition was read; setting forth, That, whereas Captain Copley, Lieutenant Governor of Hull, had divers times taken into his Possession the Post Mail coming to the said Town, and caused the same to be brought to his own House, or to a Tavern, where he opened, and imbezled, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of several Letters, at his Pleasure, to the great Prejudice and Detriment, as well of the Traders and other Inhabitants of that Town, as of divers Gentlemen, and some honourable Members of this House, living thereabouts; of which Complaint being made to the honourable John Wildman, Esquire, Postmaster General, he wrote to the Petitioner, directed him to order the Mail to be brought directly to his own House, and not to be carried elsewhere; and also writ to the said Captain Copley, desiring and enjoining him for the future, to forbear his opening the Mail, as aforesaid: Notwithstanding which, the said Captain Copley did, on the Thirteenth of June last, One thousand Six hundred Eighty-and-nine, seize the Post Mail, as formerly, and caused it to be brought to him to a Tavern; where opening and scattering the Letters about the Room, there were so many lost as amounted to about Nine Shillings for the Postage; from whence he sent a Messenger for the Petitioner to come to him: But the Petitioner, being indisposed, sent his Servant; and he desired to be excused from coming: Whereupon the said Captain Coply sent a Serjeant, and Four Musqueteers, who took the Petitioner out of his own House, and carried him to the main Guard; where, having first bound his Hands behind him, they tied him Neck and Heels, with that extreme Violence, that the Blood gushed out of his Nose and Mouth; and kept him in that intolerable Posture for Two Hours and a Half, till the Petitioner was utterly deprived of Sense, and put in extreme Hazard of his Life; and remains to this Day miserably crippled, disabled in his Limbs, and impaired in his Sight: And that, forasmuch as the said Captain Copley being a Commission Officer, the Petitioner cannot have his Remedy against him by a due Course at Law: And praying the House to take his suffering Case into their Consideration, and do him that Right upon the said Captain Copley, as to them should seem meet.