Debates in 1675: November 12th-15th

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Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 4. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

DEBATES IN THE House of Commons, From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694.

Friday, November 12, 1675.

Debate on the regulating the Election of Members to serve in Parliament, occasioned by Mr Welch's complaint of Mr Reeves's undue Election for the Borough of Eye, in Suffolk.

SIR Henry Ford.] In the Long Parliament, the Court of Stannaries was taken away, because if the plaintiff brought a vexatious suit, and was cast, he paid no costs.

Mr Garroway.] There is a short way to remedy these excesses, without taking away civil hospitality, viz. "that the person to be chosen shall have an estate in the proper County."

Serjeant Maynard.] By law, every man that serves here, must have his wages from the County or Borough he serves for, but now, generally, there are none taken— This bribing men by drink is a lay Simony—Electiones fiant libere. What do men give hogs drink for? To be carried on the shoulders of drunken fellows? Thinks it a good limitation, "that none be capacitated to be chosen, but such as have estates, or reside, in the County." Exclude them that have no estates from being trusted in what they give; who, to serve a turn, will be made free of the Borough, and, it may be, never live nor trade in the Borough hereafter.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] This case is from one that has a fair estate in the Borough, in right of his wife (Welsh) He agrees to the expedients of the expence before, or after the Election. He wonders 'tis not moved from the Kentish and Essex Gentlemen. The Cornish men have many Boroughs—In Essex there are but eight Parliament-men, and in other Counties twenty, and upwards—If you come to Oliver's establishment, 'tis more proper—Hopes you will not remedy such an inconvenience by so gross an injustice.

Sir John Bramstone.] Before you give directions to the Committee for a Bill to regulate Elections, you will, in the first place, not exclude so great a County as Essex, if you alter the law—But three Boroughs and two Knights in the County—Before you give a restraint, make us even with other Counties. In Oliver's time there were sixteen—Before you alter the law, would make the distribution more equal.

Sir Robert Carr.] There are but twelve for the County of Lincoln. Would have no man a Knight of the Shire, that has not an estate in the County he serves for but for a Burgess, if his estate be in another County, would have him serve for a Borough.

Mr Boscawen.] 'Tis looked on as a privilege of their County [Cornwall] to have so many to serve in Parliament, but strangers are chosen that look not after the County. It may be, Yorkshire has as many as Devon and Cornwall, and anciently the Boroughs petitioned to be discharged from sending Burgesses, for the charge it put them to for wages; but the world is so altered now, that some forget for what place they serve.

Mr Vaughan.] A man is obliged, in justice and gratitude, to serve the interest of the place and county he serves for. 'Tis the same thing as if a man had no estate at all, if he have none in the County or Borough.

Sir Edward Dering.] If they have estates in any other County, as in law they may be chosen, so they may in reason also. Would leave both the expence and the qualification to the Committee.

Sir Richard Temple.] Anciently there was no Vote in a Borough, but by burgage tenure, Borough-houses—We come now to freemen, and salesmen, scotters and lotters, but such only had voice as were able to maintain the charge of their Burgesses. Would tie up Elections to such as have estates to answer their actions to the place they serve for. Would not have one chosen that has not an estate of 500l. per ann. And restrain all charges, and expences, that Elections may be free.

Mr Williams.] By Statute of H. VI. the County is to chuse by Freeholders, and the Cities by Citizens and Burgesses—Electors, and elected also. There is another Statute, "that Elections shall be freely and indifferently made, notwithstanding letters, &c." which he has felt to his cost—Citizens are sometimes only freemen, and a person that came lately to be a citizen, at large —Afters the thing, and it will help Elections very much —With the officers that may determine who is, and who not to elect—Would damn all letters from great persons.

Mr Swynfin.] You are on a good subject, and it deserves consideration. You have had several things moved, almost impossible to come to effect. It was never before thought of to make rules for Boroughs, but to leave men to stand upon their ancient privileges. Some Boroughs, by prescription, have a settled right by law. In some there is no burgage tenure—Would therefore avoid these large considerations. If you make a general Vote, there will be as much doubt on the interpretation, and be as full of dispute when it comes to be applied, as now. If you go about it, 'tis as much as to say you'll have a Bill that shall never come to effect. But there is one thing—that exorbitant corruption, amounting to no less than bribery—And 'tis better to allow to give 1000l. than to expend it so disorderly. It makes the very Parliament have reflections upon it; therefore would have a Bill to restrain this giving of spending money before the Election be made.

Sir Thomas Meres.] As good make a coat for the moon, as alter the manner of Elections; we have one Burgess sits here upon one point, and another upon another. Doubts that what we are about to do is impracticable. Those who wish not the Parliament well, impute these things as a scandal to us. Therefore something should be done against drinking and bribery, and would have the Committee directed in it.

[The following form of a Vote or Order of the House was then read, and referred to.

N. B. The Committee of Privileges, passed it, [with a few alterations] the day before the Session ended. Statute of 7 H. IV. was read, at the Committee, viz. "The Election of Members to serve in Parliament, shall be freely and indifferently made, notwithstanding any prayer or commandment to the contrary."

Resolved, That if any person, or persons, hereafter to be elected, in a place for to sit and serve in the House of Commons, for any County, City, Town, Port, or Borough, after the test, or issuing out the writ of Election, upon the calling or summoning of any Parliament hereafter, or after any such place becomes vacant hereafter, in the time of Parliament, shall by himself, or any other in his behalf, or, at his charge, at any time, before the day of his Election, give any person or persons, having voice in any such Elections, any meat or drink, exceeding in their true value five pounds in the whole, in any place or places, but in his own dwelling house or habitation, being the usual place of his abode for twelve months last past, or shall, before such Election be made and declared, make any other present, gift, or reward, or any promise, obligation, or engagement, to do the same, either to any such person or persons in particular, or to any such County, City, Town, Port, or Borough, in general, or to, or for, the use of them, or any of these, every such entertainment, present, gift, reward, promise, obligation, or engagement, being truly proved, is and shall he a sufficient ground, cause, and matter, to make every such Election void, as to the person so offending, and to render the person so elected incapable to sit in Parliament, by such Election, and hereof the Committee of Elections and Privileges is appointed to take especial notice and care, and to act and determine matters coming before them accordingly.

Saturday, November 13.

Sir John Mallet reports from the Committee the business of Mons. Luzançy (fn. 1).—[It was said] "an imperfect whisper but provokes any man to show you that ever he was in his company in his life."

Sir Thomas Lee.] Mr Coleman (fn. 2) was pressed,—and said veral things at the Committee that are not reported.

Sir John Mallet proceeds.] At noon St Germain was seen in St James's park, by a French Gentleman, Secretary to that Ambassador, [Mons. Blanchard] and by a clerk in Mr Secretary Coventry's office. [Mons. le Pin] One Dr Hero, Canon of Windsor, said, "he saw him walk there at leisure, and speak with ladies"—Another time was proved by Mr Coleman, who being asked what himself was, said "he was a Gentleman that belonged to his Royal Highness, but has no constant salary. He does not know, but believes St Germain to be both a Priest and Jesuit, and no man doubts it."—Coleman appeared agitated in his defence, and acknowledged he had been with him in St James's park; and all this since the warrant from Secretary Williamson to attach St Germain. Mr Coleman. gave in a paper to the Committee, in justification of St Germain. And said "he had showed it to some Members," naming (fn. 3) Lord Hawley and myself (fn. 4). (Mr Grey)

Mr Mallet.] Said he saw strange faces about the town, and has found an odd pamphlet in the Speaker's chamber—Would clear this end of the town.

The Speaker.] 'Tis not for your honour to receive into the House every dirty paper swept into a corner. He knows not how defamatory such a thing may be upon any man.

Sir William Coventry.] After the Committee, you had satisfaction, he thinks, from Williamson, and the Proclamation also. And we have reason to acknowledge the King's care in apprehending St Germain, though there was no fruit of it—But he is cautious to move things without precedent. We have once or twice recommended our Chaplains for preferment, and doubts not, but that, when time comes, you, Mr Speaker, will put us in mind of yours—Would recommend some of those that come over to our Church to the King's favour. Dr Brevall (he has been told) has preached at WestminsterAbbey in English. Would recommend him for one, with the other, Mons. Luzançy, for some dignity that the King may please to put upon them, which may much encourage these new comers.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] Dr Brevall he saw this morning in the list of those who are to have preferment, and his turn is not yet fallen; and this morning the King gave command to the Bishop of Oxford to recommend him to the next Prebend of Westminster, that should be vacant.

Mr Garroway.] Would have Williamson give thanks from the House to the King for what he had done, and that he would be pleased to go on in that good way he has begun.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] The King of France is watchful for nothing more than to encourage such as come over to his Church. Not one comes over but has 120 or 140 pistoles a year. Either a good pension, or a corrody on some abbey. Moves that this man, (Luzançy) may be recommended for preferment, and, in particular, also, the Speaker's Chaplain.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] Dr Brevall is already Prebendary of Rochester, and the King, in consideration of this one man, has given the French Church 60l. per ann.

Mr Waller.] People that come not over into England, if abroad have had pension. Diodati had one, and Moulin another. Cardinal Perron was the son of a minister. They doing so well for converts in France, let us do so too, else we shall be thought not to mind our religion.

Sir John Holman, and Sir Charles Wheeler.] Moved for recommendation from the House to the King for La Mott, another French Minister.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] He is not in the same case with the others—He is a studious man, and is, at present, at Oxford. Will do him any kindness in his way, and least he should have discouragement, since he is named, would recommend him to the King also.

The thanks of the House were voted to the King for [his great care for promoting the Protestant Religion, in] preferring Dr Brevall.

Ordered, That Mons. Luzançy, and Mons. La Mott, be recommended to the King for preferment also.

The Speaker.] If you think his Chaplain [Mr Barker] worthy of your recommendation, to be also, &c,— It was voted.

Sir William Coventry.] If you thank the King for what he has already done to these Gentlemen, it will seem exclusive to farther preferment. Therefore would not send it in these terms.

Mr Sacheverell.] Is informed that this St Germain should walk publickly in the verge of Whitehall, since you took cognizance of him, and if you put not a mark of discouragement upon these things, your laws will never be executed; if he be not to be found when walking so publickly, the order was slightly executed —It seems as if there was a kindness to the party. This House is so discouraged, that he would have the carelesness of executing the King's commands represented.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] If Sacheverell meant him, he has done his duty, if such as execute the warrants, walk the streets. The Lord Chief Justice's warrant was out against Priests and Jesuits sometime since; and St Germain might have been taken by that warrant.

Sir Thomas Lee.] The fact is clear that the person walked abroad, but he believes not in Serjeant's-Inn, nor in Chancery-lane, at least an hour together. The King will take care to punish this neglect, he believes; but 'tis your duty to acquaint the King with it. He walked in St James's park that day the business was heard in the Council, and that day the warrant was issued out—Surely he is sheltered somewhere. He hopes that the King will take care that his orders be better executed for the future.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] Whilst we sit here, he wonders at this. Moves that the Papists may be confined to five miles from their houses, that we may the better know where to find them.

Mr Russel.] 'Tis plain that this business has not been prosecuted as it ought to be. If such persons are so countenanced, what will they be when we are up?

Mr Garroway.] Has heard that Mons. Ruvigny's Secretary should say, "That if the warrant came out against St Germain, he, St Germain, should say, "I'll carry my head myself to the House of Commons." Whatever becomes of St Germain, have a care of the King's honour, after such words he should say of the King, and that the warrants should not be executed. For the King's honour, represent it to the King. 'Tis his dishonour when his commands are not executed by his Ministers.

Sir Charles Harbord.] The King has done extraordinarily, and the Secretary has done his duty; but St Germain not appearing, there is a fault somewhere, and if you represent it to the King, you do your part in it.

Sir Robert Thomas.] Moved that no man may be a Justice of the Peace, who has a Papist to his Wife.

Col. Titus.] How can a man command his wife in matters of Religion, when, it may be, he cannot command her in any thing else? Such as breed their children Papists, would have them out of Commission.

The motion went off.

Resolved, That an Address be presented to the King, representing to him the default of not apprehending Mons. St Germain (fn. 5).

Sir John Reresby.] Informed the House, that Luzançy told him, that two French Protestant Gentlemen were threat ened by a French Papist, "Be careful how you proceed against St Germain, for it shall not be long before you shall see Hugonots blood run in the streets of London." And he is ready to name who they are.

Col. Birch.] He loves not empty Addresses. He observes that when we handle these things, we do it like hot balls. If you address, would have you make but one, and the things in it punctually proved. Would therefore take these things altogether, and refer them to the Committee, to examine, and to consider then what is sit to be done for the preservation of the King and Kingdom.

[It was referred accordingly to the same Committee.]

Sir Eliab Harvey.] Acquaints the House with Sir John Fagg's being summoned to the Lords House [on Saturday next, and that he] desires the direction of this House what he shall do. He is not willing to go to the Tower again for disobeying your order (fn. 6).

Mr Garroway.] Would proceed with such care and tenderness in this business, as not to lose the fruits of this Session, though withall he would preserve the right of the House.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Is for adjourning the Debate till Monday, but would read the order first, to know what is before you for that day.

[The Debate was accordingly adjourned to Monday.]

Monday, November 15.

Mr Mallet proffered to bring in a Bill to repeal the Act of King James, entitled "Felony to marry a second husband, or wife, the former being living (fn. 7)."

Mr Waller.] There are some things that ought not to be named, even amongst the Gentiles. But is sorry to read that our Saviour was son of a virgin who had but one husband, and that such a thing as this should be reported to be discoursed of within our doors. We cannot do such a thing as this. Let the Gentleman that would bring it in, tell him, whether his dove-house is not better stored, where one cock has but one hen, than his yard, where one cock has many hens. (Mallet, in opening the Bill, pretending it was for peopling the nation, and preventing the promiscuous use of women.) 'Tis such an abominable Bill, that it is not fit to be retained.

Sir Lionel Jenkins.] Saying, it was against the Canons and Decretals of the Church,

Mr Mallet.] Said, he knew no Canons nor Decretals it was against, but those of Rome, with which Jenkins was better acquainted than himself.

Sir Thomas Lee.] The best Question to this purpose is to read the order of the day.

Ordered, That the call of the House be on Thursday next.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Would have the order positive for Thursday, and the first business that day, that Gentlemen may not think your orders are nugatory, and so go out of town.

[Debate on Sir John Fagg's business resumed.]

Sir Trevor Williams.] Would have the Votes of the last Session, in Sir John Fagg's case, read.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Would not have the House express fear, nor yet be the aggressors in this business either. The Lords have begun the quarrel—You may have the orders read out of time, disorderly, and not in the method they were made. 'Twill be the labour of an hour to reduce the differences to a fair scheme, and would have them done, and present them to morrow at ten of the clock, where you may see a false step, if any was made, and may mend it. Would go throughly with it, that we may justify it, and therefore moves for such an order.

Mr Sacheverell.] In this affair would walk with all caution imaginable, both for the liberty of this House, and that the Lords may lay nothing at our doors. If you forbid Fagg's appearing, you draw the same inconvenience upon him as before, his concern is so great. —He appeared, and incurred your displeasure, and you sent him you know whither. Therefore moves that you would take the same care now in Fagg's case, as you did last Session in Mr Onslow's, that he do not appear.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] 'Tis not a summons that is sent to Fagg from the Lords, but a notification—It requires not his attendance, nor appearance; he is left to his discretion. The last distemper increased from one provocation to another, and the Session, thereupon, became fruitless. Therefore he seconds the motion for a Committee to state what we did in Fagg's case the last Session.

Sir Thomas Lee.] If Clarges will be one to undertake that work, he would then have it done. It will take near a quire of paper to write, and at last to have the Lords Journal perused—He knows not what to lose rather than the Lords should gain this Prerogative over us; and would be the last man that should make this Session fruitless—The Lords take proceedings as they left them the last time—No new summons, and you will go no farther than needs must, you are told—So then let the Lords judge the cause, and the thing is done by contract. Perhaps they will give judgment in favour of your Member, that he have no cause to complain— Would have Conference, not on the main matter, but to let them see the inconvenience of the last Session— When you have put yourselves first into a posture of defence, then proceed—Place all on this single point, "of stopping the weighty affairs of the Kingdom," and then do what you please.

Col. Titus.] If, on the one side, you are too apt to comply, you will endanger your privileges, and if, on the other, too strict or severe, you will shake the foundation of the Government. If there be nothing left but the King and the House of Commons, there will be an eternal contest between the King and us, about prerogative, on the one hand, and anarchy on the other; and if in deferring to give your opinion till to morrow, you give up the cause, then would proceed to day—Moves to keep the business entire for to morrow, that it may be well considered.

Mr Garroway.] He knows nothing before you, but to assert your privilege. Will you give that up? Though he would proceed with all moderation. If that be, without doubt, our privilege, "not to be summoned, &c." then we do madly not to assert it. They claim this judicature, but of very late date, 18 James— Without any prejudice to the cause, you ought to declare that your Member have his privilege not to be summoned to the Lords Bar.

Sir William Coventry.] There is no place now for summons of Fagg to the Lords House; that is done already, and your Member has given in his answer; so that is done too. He seconds the review of our books, as to what we have done last Session, and could have wished we had been a little stronger in our proceedings. Would, in the review, avoid heat as much as can be. As some ways of our proceedings may be unnecestary, so some may be dangerous, to make the breach wider. Therefore would not make that the whole scheme of the business. But your Member in justice must have some direction; for want of that, Fagg mistook; for want of a rule. You can do no less for him than as you directed Onslow, viz. "not to proceed without your leave." This is not only a matter of right, but there are prudential considerations to be had, when directions are given, whether more explicitly or implied by directions—Then will be a time to think of the most cautious and deliberate way for the safety of your privilege, and yet to make it appear that the occasion was given from the Lords, and not from us. He hears that Fagg is confident of his cause, but though the Lords should judge it for him, yet it is a breach of privilege. Moves therefore that your Member may be enjoined not to proceed without your leave.

Mr Sawyer.] You had many Votes last Session grounded upon the Lords Votes, which brought them on. The mischief we saw by it was Prorogation; and if it should so fall out again, this, and all other Parliaments, would be rendered useless thereby. Should we break, he believes we should never see a Parliament again lay it to heart. If we ask, where has been this jurisdiction? They will be too hard for us. They have it in writs of error—The surest way must be by denying the jurisdiction; and if we deny, and they assert, Appeals, how unprofitable will all our Conferences be! If there should be a positive assertion on both sides, it excludes all Conferences—And no way to be remedied unless by Bill. He hopes never to live longer than the use of Parliaments. He thinks it will become you to represent the interruption this will give to affairs, and that some way might be thought of. Moves for a Committee from this House, with the Lords, to consider what way to settle this matter. He believes 'tis feasible, and both may consider the ancient way of Parliament, and defer the cause till the business be settled. If we go by way of Conference, he believes we shall never attain our ends.

Mr Williams.] It seems, here is an Appeal against one of your Members in the House of Peers; upon this, the Lords grant an order, and Fagg has notice to appear to answer it. We are only in case of a Member of your House, a Commoner, against your Member. It becomes us not to look into proceedings of the last Session—Privilege destroys not the Lords judgment—— Therefore 'tis fit that Fagg either makes his defence, or else enjoin him not to proceed. If you put off the Debate till to morrow, people will say you have not voted it a breach of privilege, but have put it off. Therefore would not stay a moment to vote it a breach of privilege. 'Tis said "that for a Conference you cannot have a proposition," and what better proposition than that this is a breach of privilege?

Mr Vaughan.] Your Vote stands as well as the Lords in a Prorogation. He is against carrying such a Vote up. Would lay only before the Lords the state of the Kingdom, which will not only interrupt the Session, but the being of all Parliaments.

Mr Williams.] Never mentioned "carrying the Vote up." But when it appears a breach, you declare it quoad boc, only as to this particular person. 'Tis far from him to mean carrying up this Vote.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Vaughan is mistaken—'Tis one thing to make a resolution, and another to tell the Lords of it. Put the case, we desire a Conference, and the Lords tell you they will proceed—Takes it for no more than to encourage the Lords to a Conference. If you make not matter of privilege the ground, the Lords have no reason to put the cause off. 'Tis in order only to proceed.

Sir Thomas Meres.] As to Fagg's case you must give some answer, and would not be mistaken—To flat the spirit of this House was never his intention. What answer to give to Fagg, you have ready, viz. "That he shall not proceed." You treat not with the Lords now in their capacity of legislature, but in this judicial—'Tis a sign that you are mature in what you did last Session— That you are wiser—Repentance is nothing else. Therefore vote either directions to your Member, or the other Vote.

Mr Cheney.] If you vote this a breach of privilege, tis as much as to say the Lords have broken your privilege, all this while, in the judgments they have made. See the reasons you have already made, and then proceed.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] 'Tis a certain rule that no Member can be impleaded or diverted from his attendance here, and you have already declared it. You are told by Sawyer, "That precedents, &c." Perhaps every term your Members are impleaded, but upon notification to the House, 'tis never suffered. At a Conference declare not in any judicature. (Though the Lords say this) says Sawyer, "The Lords hear any Appeal amongst themselves." 'Tis not impossible that every Member in our House may be impleaded, and so the whole Parliament falls—The Lords still sit in their places, though a Lord be concerned in an Appeal. If you think not fit to have a Conference, have a Question, "That no Member of this House ought to be impleaded in any court, during privilege of Parliament."

Mr Powle.] Thinks we are so careful in what we do, not out of compliment to lose any of our right, but is afraid this is made use of to the contrary. Possibly the Bills depending are so good, that this matter is kept in the fingers to prevent them, and in hopes these Bills may be so altered and qualified as not to be worth having— We live in an age of so much design. Therefore would not proceed so carefully in this, as to be thought fearful. The order of summons takes notice of Fagg's being a Member of the House of Commons, and yet summons him. If he were Fagg only, another case, but Fagg is a Member. This House formerly would not let their Members go to the Lords Bar to give evidence, or plead, for fear of privilege. The Long Robe have done much in this by pleading at that Bar without leave—Proposes some general order, "That no Member, as Counsel or Evidence, have leave to go to the Lords Bar." The thing has been so well discoursed the last Session, that you are ripe for the Question proposed. First, vote "that 'tis a breach of privilege;" secondly, lay an injunction upon your Member "not to proceed," and, if he miscarry, hopes you will stand by your Member; and is then for viewing your former proceedings by a Committee, but would do this first.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this House, that Sir John Fagg do not farther appear to make defence against an Appeal brought against him at the Lords Bar, without leave of the House.

[Resolved, That the prosecuting this Appeal by Thomas Shirley, Esq; &c. is a breach of the privilege of this House.]


  • 1. It appears, by the Journal, that what is here reported was the examination of Da/?iel Cordier, a Frerch gentleman, who had been examined before the King in Council, the Monday before. The substance of it there is much the same with that above related.
  • 2. Secretary to the Duke of York, of whom more hereafter.
  • 3. Sir John Mallet named not us in this report.
  • 4. The Compiler.
  • 5. The King's Proclamation, &c. for apprehending St Germain, bore date Nov.10. And 200l. reward was offered for apprehending him; but he escaped (as appears after. wards) and took refuge in France, where he became a joint sollicitor with Coleman for the Catholic cause.
  • 6. Some thought that the King had consented to the renewal of this Appeal-dispute, as disliking the warm proceedings of both Houses, of which opinion was Marvell. Others believed that the Lords of the country interest had persuaded the Doctor thereto, with a view thereby to kindle such a flame between the two Houses, as should oblige the King either to prorogue or dissolve them; the said Lords apprehending that if this Parliament should sit much longer, the majority might be gained over by places and money, so as to become quite obsequious to the court; and this Savile Lord Halisax, then in the interest of Lord Shastesbury, his uncle, told Sir John Reresby was his opinion. Ralph.
  • 7. There is no mention of this in the Journal.