Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 1. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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THE DEBATES IN THE House of Commons, From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694.
[The Parliament met on the 10th of October 1667, when the King in a short speech told them, "that there had been some former miscarriages, which had occasioned some differences between him and them; but that he had now altered his counsels, and made no question, but that they should henceforward agree, for he was resolved to give them all satisfaction; and did not doubt, but that they would supply his necessities, and provide for the payment of his debts;" with an insinuation, that what had been formerly done amiss had been by the advice of a (fn. 1) person, whom he had removed from his councils, and with whom he should not hereafter advise."
MR. WALLER (fn. 2).] It was said, that King James imposed the Oath of Allegiance not so much to discriminate Papist from Protestant, as Papist from Papist; such as were so in principles of government—For multiplying of oaths the land mourneth.
Sir John Denham (fn. 3).] Discoursing upon this subject, told the story out of Boccace, of the Miller and his Wife: When the Mill was on fire, she bid him pray to God, and renounce the devil and his works: He said, he would pray to God, but for renouncing the devil, he would not; for then he must cease being a Miller—Oline slagitiis, nunc legibus laboramus.
The Oath in the Bill says, the Pope has no spiritual power—We had our ordination from that church—The Prince of the Air has power; so have the Popes; shall I say they have not?—In Queen Elizabeth's time the people chose a persecuted party—The Bishops put down by the Presbyterian party; they by the Independents; they again by the Bishops—Christ the sovereign of the Order of the Cross which we all follow, as we reverence the Blue Ribbon.
Mr. Vaughan (fn. 4).] Unreasonable to punish men for what they cannot help; a man cannot believe how and what he will.
Wednesday, October 23.
[The House being informed, that it will be necessary to receive some informations from his Highness Prince Rupert, and his Grace the Duke of Albemarle, concerning some miscarriages at Chatham and Sheerness, and other matters relating to the late War, ordered a Committee to attend his Highness and the Duke with the Thanks of the House, and to desire them to impart what they know of any such miscarriages.]
Friday, October 25.
[A petition of William Taylour, Esq; and Articles of Impeachment against Lord Mordaunt, and others, were read, and the new matter of the Petition and Articles referred to a Committee, who were to report what Progress and Proceedings were made in this Business the former Session.]
Saturday, October 26.
Sir Thomas Howard.] Edward IV. Commissioners for mint money were appointed—This money granted by Act of Parliament 21 King James—An Act of Parliament for a council of war, to take accounts of the subsidy money and management of the Palatinate war (for which use the subsidy was granted) and therefore enquiries in parliament of that nature are not fishing in troubled waters, as was by some alleged.
Sir Richard Temple (fn. 5).] The King has no prerogative that he may be cheated, and I hope the Parliament will not give him such a Prerogative. It promotes his negative voice.
[On this Bill of accounts some difference had arisen between the two Houses in the preceding session; and at a conference, Lord Anglesea acquainted the Commons, "that the Lords had formerly agreed to a Committee of both Houses, but found no precedent for such Committee to take oaths. But as to a Bill, they found that an extraordinary way, and that there was no necessity for it; but had thought of aniexpedient, which might conduce to the business and make it as effectual as a Bill: And had drawn a petition to his Majesty (to which his Majesty had sent his answer,) for a commission to issue for taking the accounts on oath; a copy of which petition and his Majesty's answer were delivered at the conference:" which petition and answer being read, a debate ensued.]
Col. Sandys (fn. 6).] No precedent of this nature, that a Bill sent up, the Lords petition the King—The Commons to demand reparation.
Sir William Coventry (fn. 7).] Slowness of proceedings of the Commons or Lords must not be deemed a breach of privilege on either side.
Sir Thomas Littleton (fn. 8).] They procure royal assent to the subject matter of a Bill before its time—a violation of our privileges—Put them to find a precedent.
Sir Thomas Gower . (fn. 9).] Henry IV. difference—The Commons took notice that the Parliament's proceedings were told the King before the time—Ought to be so no way but by the Speaker.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] No journal to be found in the clerk's hand but from Queen Elizabeth's time (fn. 10).
On Lord St John's striking Sir Andrew Henley in WestminsterHall, the Courts sitting (fn. 11).
On Lord St John's humbling himself to the House, and acknowleging himself to be the aggressor, and craving the House's intercession for him to his Majesty, it was ordered, that he should bring in his petition, and that the House would wait upon the King to present it. My Lord proffered to submit himself to the Judges, but not thought fit, nor precedented. It was likewise moved, that Sir Andrew Henley should be also interceded for, as being of the body of the Commons of England; but not granted, as being an ill precedent, to give way that any private person should be interceded for by the House of Commons (not a member of the House.)—His merits by Sir John Birkenhead stated; that he gave 2500l. amongst the poor cavaliers—Sir Robert Howard moved that this might be granted my Lord, by reason that his father's 20,000l. loss was not considered in the Act of indemnity, and this was an opportunity for his Majesty to shew him his grace.
Tuesday, October 29.
[A Committee having been appointed, the day before, to look into ancient Precedents of the Method of the Proceedings of the House in case of impeachment for capital Offences, the Matter was this Day reported (fn. 12).]
Mr. Vaughan reports,] That the Committee had examined cases of impeachment in capital offences in the Journals—In Memorials of interlocutory passages—They viewed also crimes not capital, to prevent future labour. 18 Jac. Sir Giles Mompesson's case—Ld St Albans—Sir John Bennet, Judge of the Prerogative Court—Earl of Middlesex, which was for laying new impositions; but these not capital.
Capital: Those of the E. of Strafford, before any tumults, and before the Houses were separated from the K. —17 Car. Lord Keeper Finch—17 Car. A message from the Lords for a conference, but the Houses could not meet; but afterwards a select Committee to prepare for the conference.
A message afterwards, that Ld Strafford be separated from the Parliament and committed—An impeachment was brought against him—The Lords accordingly did commit him, and a message to the King that the passage to Ireland might be opened.
A message to Abp. Laud: And that he be committed —The Lords answer, that they had committed him to the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod—Lord-keeper Finch desired to beheard before any vote—Moved and resolved, that the Lord Keeper be impeached of high treason and other misdemeanors; and was committed till particular accusation be exhibited—But no proceeding in this business but what was by the Lords.
Mr. Seymour (fn. 13).] In Journal—Message to the Lords, that a Committee of a few of the Lords be appointed, and that a Committee of a few of the Commons be present at the examination of witnesses against the Earl of Strafford.
Mr Prynne.] Three ways of impeachments—In some cases the King himself impeaches—Before the Conquest Edward the Confessor impeached the Earl of Kent— Edward III. Anselmo, Bp of Canterbury, Mortimer, for murdering Edward II. was impeached by the King.
10 R. I. Wm de la Pole; the Commons go up in a whole body, and by the mouth of the Speaker accuse him to the Lords of certain articles. He answered, and was sequestered from parliament; but then this was not for a capital offence.
Mr Vaughan.] 21 Edw. III. divers aids were granted to the King; the merchants bargained for them—It was granted the merchants should be heard—The complaint carried without examining any person—The merchants petitioned that they might make their answer.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] For capital offences we are in the dark till Ld Strafford's time—A remonstrance was drawn to vindicate the Commons that they proceeded not barely upon common fame, which the King hinted in his speech as if they had—The Committee for the business gave this report by Mr Pym. The charge proved from the Commons a general impeachment—The principal article that was made treason was by a single witness only, viz. in bringing the army out of Ireland to govern by their power; which was only by Sir Henry Vane. Sir John Clotworthy accused him only of misdemeanor.
Serjeant Maynard (fn. 14).] A close Committee was appointed in Ld Strafford's business—Sir John Clotworthy affirmed, that the E. had assumed an arbitrary power, and dispossessed one Savage, with men armed in array of war, of his lands—with some smaller crimes, and that of flax, &c.
Sir Henry Vane informed, that Ld Strafford should say to the King that he wanted money; the Parliament would not supply him; and that he stood loose and absolved from all rules of Government, and you may send for your army out of Ireland to reduce your kingdom to obedience.
In Lord Strafford's case he himself and others were commanded to manage the impeachment—There were twenty four articles—It was argued then how dangerous it was to make an accumulative treason, and so to give the Courts at Westminster an occasion of a precedent—There were four general articles, which were altered—He attended a Judge, and told him they went only upon the article of Savage for levying war upon the people, which is levying war upon the King.
Mr Vaughan.] The words of the E. of Clarendon, by a statute of this Parliament, are no less than præmunire— The King's change of religion—That of raising the army is such a thing, that should we only let that charge go by us and die (now all over the kingdom) how can we an swer it in relation to the King and ourselves?—We cannot let it go by—Lord Clarendon's reputation cannot be whole without answering to this charge.
If he should return to the King's favour without answering, the people may justly say, 'tis strange! before he clears himself. What would you say of a member, that should make no answer? His silence would oblige you to put him to his answer. In case of the farmers of the King's aid, before mentioned, they desired to be put to their answer—The Duke of Suffolk, 28 H. VI, charged upon common fame; he presently petitioned, that he might clear himself by answer—The nature of the charge as yet under no name, but must have one before it go to the Lords—Moves to appoint a committee to draw up the charge, that my Lord may give his answer to right himself as well as us—If the witnesses should be published, we should have publication of the charge, but not of the defence, which is unequal.
The writ returns bonos et legales homines—Persons either can prove, or say they can produce proofs, which is a good ground of accusation—The law makes no distinction of persons, unless the person has a law for himself—A person that has no visible estate, and lives at a great rate, must answer to his common fame of multiplying gold and silver—Suspicion of felony upon common fame; a jury may indict upon fame without evidence. What this house charges is of greater weight than any jury, being called by the King's writ.
Mr Laurence Hyde (fn. 15).] Desires not to be accounted so much the Earl of Clarendon's son, as a member of this House; and desires that when the articles are drawn the House may judge of the fitness of them to be exhibited.
Mr Sollicitor Finch (fn. 16).] He believes no truth in law more, than no treason by the common law—no treason in equity—'T was a prodigious confusion, that a man could not know what to do or what to say till 25 Edw. III. —The Parliament was to declare, not the Judge—Two declaratory powers in Parliament. 1. By legislative power unlimited. 2. By way of judgment of the three estates—He asserts they cannot declare it treason, unless felony before. John Imperial, the Genoa Ambassador. The Duke of Lancaster murdered, the fact felony before —There is only Lord Strafford's Bill against it, but with a ne trabetur in exemplum to inferior courts—See farther in the appeal of the act of attainder.
For the honour of the House, he desires to enter his protestation—If Lord Clarendon should utter such bedlam expressions, as that the King was not fit to govern, and was so far forsaken by God, his punishment can never wipe away the consequences—If this cannot be proved, the blackest scandal under heaven lies at our door. Lord Clarendon cannot be denied counsel, therefore we must proceed according to the best of our skill—Protests against gratifying Lord Clarendon, but desires not to outlive the honour of the King, and that we may establish it.
Sir Robert Howard (fn. 17).] Is against having oaths—We cannot give oaths. The Lords desire to know why we accuse, and we have not formed informations—At a grand jury no witness accepted before information given. The hearts of the Commons cannot be so soon regained in doing something, as we have lost them in doing nothing.
Sir Edward Walpole (fn. 18).] In Sir George Ratcliffe's case the Committee reported in 1640 no giving a charge upon scattered evidence; the words in Journal.
Sir Robert Atkins (fn. 19)] Against adjourning the debate. Lord Bacon says, that the best precedents are in the quietest times. Lord Middlesex. Sir Miles Fleetwood had a note of his crimes put into his hands. Sir Edward Coke was against a select Committee, but fit for the Committee of Grievances; as it fell out, they gave order Sir Miles Fleetwood should be referred to that Committee. The Lords sent to the Commons to know if they were ready for Impeachment; they were for Judgment. 'Tis a discouragement for all persons to appear for him, the House of Commons accusing him and animating his enemies.
In Ld Strafford's case there was much fear in the case of many of the Members. A fellow upon a barrel in Westminster-Hall proclaimed all traitors that gave votes for him, and he was one that did, and was forced at that instant to seign himself Sir Arthur Haslerigg. We have all reason to believe, that the nation produces no such prodigy as one so culpable as to advise the king to govern by a standing army—Six Emperors in five years had their heads tumbled down by such a government.
Mr Vaughan.] Lord Middlesex impeached for the impositions upon wines and other things which the books of the customs made evident, and these evidences in every case not to be had. The same Sir Giles Mompesson's patent. What can the Committee of Grievances do in cases like Lord Clarendon's? Suppose the evidence be in the House of Lords, the quality of the persons may be such as cannot or will not give evidence—Moves that a Committee be appointed to draw up a charge.
Sir R. Temple.] In the eye of the law the most probable person must be presented for crimes; as in killing a man; presentments for ways and bridges, the townships and the county, though possibly not bound to do it— Let not this son of Zeruiah be too strong for King and Parliament.
Serjeant Maynard.] Would have moral certainty at least of the accusation (fn. 20).
Mr Trevor (fn. 21).] Finds no case that does absolutely quadrate with this, and this will be a precedent.
Mr Marvell (fn. 22).] Would have the faults hunt the persons—Would not have a sudden impeachment by reason of the greatness of the person or danger of escape, Lord Clarendon not being likely to ride away post—Witnesses of that quality not to be had.
Ans.] The whole house has sent lately to prince Rupert, and the Duke of Albemarle—Wishes that crimes may be punished, and persons spared—Gentlemen that love country sports know what (fn. 23) poaching is—Let us not wink and strike.
Sir Thomas Clifford (fn. 24).] It will make an end of all impeachments here, to have witnesses examined.