Debates in 1680: November 12th-15th

Pages 459-477

Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 7. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

Friday, November 12.

[Sir William Jones was sent up with a Message to the Lords, to acquaint them with the Resolution of this House to proceed to the Tryal of the Lords in the Tower, and forthwith begin with William Viscount Stafford; and to desire their Lordships to appoint a convenient day for the Tryal of the said William Viscount Stafford, &c. And their Lordships accordingly appointed Tuesday fortnight for the said Tryal.]

Saturday, November 13.

Mr Peter Norris [being called in,] gave an Information in writing, relating to the Popish Plot; which was read at the Clerk's Table (fn. 1).

Mr Paul Foley (fn. 2).] This man was sent over into France, to bring a Priest who could give evidence to the Plot, and had 20l. given him, by Order of Council, for that purpose, and care was taken to poison the Evidence. When Norris came back into England, he was seized by Secretary Jenkins's Order, though he went by Order, and had Money allowed him.

[A Committee was appointed, to receive Informations concerning the Popish Plot, &c. Norris's Information was referred to the said Committee.]

Mr Trenchard reports, from the Committee to whom the Charge against Sir George Jeffreys, Recorder of London, was referred, [That the Committee had taken the same into consideration, and had heard the Evidence for and against the said Sir George Jeffreys, and had agreed upon a Vote to be reported to the House, &c.]

Lord Russel.] It appears plainly that Jeffreys (fn. 3) is a Criminal. It is plain he has acted so arbitrarily against the Protestant interest, that, unless some exemplary punishment be inslicted upon him, other offenders may take encouragement. We are sure he has given countenance to the Plot, and I desire you will humbly move the King to remove him from his Places, and that you would inflict some exemplary punishment upon him.

Sir Henry Capel.] The circumstance of time is of great weight in this matter. The City of London is a great and wise body, and will not be disturbed by the notions of a particular man. The time when this was done is much in the case. A little disturbance then was of great weight. This is a disturbance in the City, in their Proceedings according to Law. Westminster is a great City too, and the consequence of disturbing these two Cities might have been fatal. The City of London embraced the opposition of the Plot with great zeal, and placed their Guards for Defence of the City and Kingdom, and when they proceed according to Law, you are to give them all the countenance you can. The King and Kingdom are beholden to them for their safety. I remember, yesterday, Fitzgerald, in his Information, told us, "That the Papists were discomposed when the Parliament was to fit, but afterwards they were assured they should have no harm, because there would be a difference betwixt the Lords and them." And so, according to Coleman's Letters, they were to sit, or not sit, be prorogued, or not prorogued, as they should see cause. But that there should be such Members to give this occasion in the Long Parliament amongst ourselves! —If you agree with the Committee in this Vote, we shall have no difference with the City, that brave and Protestant City; and I hope next there will be no difference betwixt the Lords and us. I would agree with the Committee.

Mr Booth.] I agree that Sir George Jeffreys, by what I hear from the Report, was a great occasion of the Pro clamation against petitioning for sitting of the Parliament, which is called "seditious." He is Chief Justice of Chester, and I shall speak to his Proceedings there. He has an arbitrary Power to appoint the Assizes. Usually the first Assizes are kept there about April or May, and the latter about September. The first he put off till July—So long put off, that we were forced to have no Assizes. At last, in August he came; and then went away, and left half the causes untryed, and, to mend the matter, he said "there should be no more tryed, and the People must go away," their Counsel feed, and their Witnesses brought. We cannot expect Justice from him; besides, this matter he is charged with from the City renders him unfit either to be employed in Chester or London. It is a dishonour to the King his deportment, to sit up drinking till three or four of the clock in the morning, and next day to appear upon the Bench, with the symptoms of a man that had taken a large dose over night. Several Gentlemen that are Justices can prove, that he said, "He did not know how long he should be Chief Justice, and so did not take the Oaths and Test appointed by Law." Sir Peter Leicester was by; he would have sworn him, and there was no Dedimus potestatem; and if you, Mr Speaker, had not been by, he had sworn him. I hope that you will add to your Vote "his removal from his Place of Chief Justice of Chester.

Mr Wharton.] The best way to make this Report perfect, is to recommit it. I observe that Jeffreys's witnesses were very defective: Some were the very men that tore the Petition for sitting of the Parliament. Another, Crisp, was a Serjeant of the Hall. I will not speak of his immoralities, but I would have all the Members of the Common Council, of the House, speak their knowlege of his deportment.

Mr Vernon.] I will speak only to his traducing of Petitions. I do not wonder at his insolence in the Courts, when he was so at the Council-Table. He was one that stepped out, to speak his opinion of Petitions to the King, before my Lord Chancellor gave his. Some destroy Petitions rantingly, and some subtilely, &c.

Colonel Titus, being called upon to speak, said,] When a Member will speak, or not, he is the best judge of it himself. But here is a Report that refers you to Members of the Common Council for farther information. I move you, that they may give the House satisfaction, how things were carried by Sir George Jeffreys in the Common Council.

Sir Robert Clayton.] If any Gentleman desires to be satisfied in any particular thing that was done at the Common Council, I am ready to give him satisfaction.

Colonel Birch.] Consider what the Reporter said, mind the Report of all your Evidences, and it is but what your Members said as Evidence. Your Report will look imperfect, unless you do so.

Sir Patience Ward, Lord Mayor.] Whilst the Petition for sitting of the Parliament was agitating (it was the popular Petition by gathering of hands which several Members of the House subscribed) there was a noise that the Lord Mayor was summoned to the Council upon it, and had some admonition; they apprehending that it was a tumultuous Petition within the Law. The Lord Mayor and Aldermen were summoned to the Council; they consulted the Recorder, the mouth of the City, before they could say any thing. The Recorder mentioned Crooke's Reports, and said, "Such Petitioning was bordering upon Treason, and the beginning of Rebellion, and promoting Sedition:" And it had a great effect upon the people that know not, and read not the Law. Five days after, the Proclamation came out, which put great weight upon mens spirits. A Common Council was called, where it was moved to petition the King for sitting of the Parliament, representing the great danger of Religion, &c. The Court being opened, and something said of the Petition, Sir George Jeffreys, in a long discourse, mentioned Crooke's Reports, but upon some discourse with him, he agreed Petitioning to be lawful; but abundance changed their minds, when the Recorder urged, "That that way of Petitioning did once tend to destroy the King's Person, and might endanger the City Charter." And the terror of such as feared the loss of the Charter, brought that issue of deterring Persons from subscribing the Petition.

Sir Robert Clayton.] There were two sorts of Petitioning, the one popular, the other from the Common Council. What were the actions of this Gentleman were in Common Council. The Lord Mayor, &c. were summoned before the King and Council; where my Lord Chancellor told them, "That the King had heard of a Petition both from London and the Country, which would prejudice the public peace." He charged them that there should be no Petitioning in London, and gave a strict charge against the thing, and the Question being asked "By what Law?" the Recorder produced the Report out of Crooke, "That it was a crime punishable at discretion, and that it bordered upon Treason." The Recorder did declare it lawful at the Common Council, but did obstruct it all he could.

Mr Pilkington.] There has been something omitted, which I shall crave leave to give you an account of. The Recorder, in the Common Council, spoke to this effect: "Gentlemen, you have heard the King's Proclamation; take notice, if you displease the King by Petitioning, and shorten the King's Life thereby, your Charter and all things will be taken from you, and it may be the ruin of you and your posterity." Many have been deterred by his manner of pleading and ranting in the City Court —I take him to be a common enemy to mankind, and I hope you will use him accordingly.

Sir Thomas Player.] I am commanded to inform you of this matter; and though some persons may look upon it as an extraordinary severity from me, who formerly have had an extraordinary friendship for this Gentleman, that I should now expose him, and let the World see his extravagances, yet, for the service of England, farewell all particular friendship! At the Privy Council I was not, but at the Common Council I was. It was remarked, that his forwardness in the Council, in giving his opinion in the Proclamation, gave it that forward birth. Though for his Speech in Common Council (of an hour long) some men did admire him, yet this it was, to justify the Court. Several Members of the Common Council made it appear, that it was absolutely necessary that the Parliament should meet for the preservation of the King's Person, our Liberties and Lives. Having asserted this, I think no man had the impudence to say the contrary. But it may be, Jeffreys hoped to be a Privy Counsellor, or to get a Chief Justice's Place. We Citizens, next to the security of the King, are fond of our Charter and Liberties, and are fond of the Chamber of London, and of the protection of Orphans; and to make sure work, and confirm all the City in the danger of Petitioning, Jeffreys tells them, "They were like to lose their Charter, and all their Privileges." It was a damnable way in Jeffreys to use towards the King, to represent his People to him as seditious, &c. and so good a People as those of London! And to tell them, "that if they did petition, they were likely to have no Parliament, but if they did not, probably they might!" This Gentleman said not, it was unlawful to petition, &c. but would have us stay till our throats be cut, and then we may. But the Common Council did carry the Petition, and made the Court of Aldermen part with their Prerogative, and poll with the Commons, and then they carried it. As to Jeffreys's punishment, I leave him to the mercy of the House.

Sir William Jones.] I am not at all against naming a Committee, &c. When the whole matter shall be before you, it is then fittest to agree with the Committee. But I would go farther. I had not the honour to be of the House, to be present at this Committee, but for this matter of Jeffreys's opposing Petitioning, &c. the fact is made out. For my part, I do think that those who go about to stop Petitioning, go about to bring a Civil War into the Nation. There is no Government that ties up mens tongues, especially when their desires are according to Law, but will soon be troubled with their hands; therefore it is very dangerous to stop the People's mouths. This matter of Petitioning is condemned (it seems) because of gathering of hands. Jeffreys was of opinion in the Common Council, that it was lawful to petition, &c. but before the King and Council he held it unlawful. This seems to me to take away the very Liberty of Englishmen. If it be unlawful to gather hands, then but one man must come and petition at a time, and this is to render it ineffectual; and then it will be reasonable to say, "Here is but one man's hand to the Petition; you are too saucy, go home." If men, under pretence of Petitioning, will come in a body of twenty thousand men, therefore it is not permitted; but this of gathering of hands is a middle way, and we must acquaint one another with our intentions, else there is no way of Petitioning. This is to show the dangerous consequence of opposing Petitioning. This Gentleman is of the Profession of the Law—I do not know, as to my notion of the Recorder of London's Place, that it is his office to terrify men, by saying, "Let me see their faces that vote for Petitioning." And what he has done has not been only in his sphere as Recorder, but when he comes to attend the King and Council, he intrudes his opinion of Petitioning. I never did presume, in the Office I had the honour to be in, (Attorney General,) to tell the King what was Law, without his asking me the question. This is an extraordinary thing; it seems, he takes Petitioning to be Law at the Common Council, and unlawful before the King and Council. I observe, that the Proclamation tells us, "That by the common known Law of the Nation, Petitioning is unlawful." We all know that the King, by reason of his great occasions, does not descend to enquire into the Law, and these men, that tell the King otherwise, pretend to know the Law very well. Jeffreys, at the Tryal of a man indicted for gathering hands to the Petition, when the Jury found the man guilty, said, "He would do as the Jury had done," and got a Jury sworn for the purpose. And it was an extraordinary way, that a man not concerned should challange one of the Jury, that tore anotheir Petition, and Jeffreys gave the man money to drink; and "would, upon occasion, (as he said) be a Counsel for him gratis. "This shows, as much as can be, his inclination and greatest endeavour to obstruct Petitioning, &c. Should a man, out of his Office, do this that Jeffreys at the Council, &c.—It shows the greatest animosity. I am sorry to hear such things as I have heard to-day of this Gentleman; and having spoken thus much, I shall now speak to the matter of agreeing with your Committee. I take it, the Committee has examined the matter of fact, and all the answer you can expect, is, whether Jeffreys be guilty, or not guilty. I hope now, that your Vote of agreeing with the Committee will be at least as large upon Jeffreys, as your Vote against the hinderers of Petitioning, and if the House proceed not upon him, your Vote will be lame. As to the addressing the King to remove him from his Office of Chief Justice of Chester, do it not till there be sufficient proof against him of what he is charged with there—This person has a great Office in that County, as much as Chief Justice of England there. I would only acquaint you, that I am afraid that his Office is for life; but whether so or not so, I would address the King, that he may not exercise the Office of Recorder; and whether a person so guilty be an Officer fit for them, I appeal to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen.

Sir Francis Winnington.] I know not one particular thing that tends more to the dissolution of the being of Parliaments, than this of murdering Petitions. Evils are increased by intermission of Parliament. It is on Record, that former Kings have chid their Subjects for not petitioning for redress of their Grievances. Sir Samuel Barnardiston's case and this are of the same thread. If false Returns are made of Members, and not petition !—What tends more to the suppression of Parliaments than this? I do not my duty, if I take no notice of this. This of the Proclamation against Petitioning, is of a very extraordinary nature. What is our duty, is called "seditious;" and what is plain Law, the Proclamation calls "against the known Laws of the Land." The Proclamation is of a strange style, and I have often wondered at it. This Gentleman at the Council-Table taking upon him answering matter of Law, without asking him any Question, shows the officious spirit of the man against Petitioning. Mr Arnold promoted Petitioning in his Country, and was sent for to the Council-Board, and had an accusation as if he was an Offender; like those that first discovered the Irish Plot, the men were clapped up for their pains; and, you may remember, Mr Oates was accused of buggery, and the countenance that it had. When Mr Arnold came to the Council, he answered every point. Said one Lord, "He printed a Petition." Said another Lord, "Say you so? then he promoted Petitioning." And when all Mr Arnold's accusations came to an hearing, this of Petitioning was fastened upon him as a monstrous thing. I would have the World see you have a just resentment of this thing; that men should be troubled by summons to the Council-Table, and then sent home again. As for the Case mentioned in Crooke's Reports, it is an extrajudicial thing. As the Shipmoney was a Star-Chamber Case, so this Judgment against Petitions has been exploded, as an erroneous opinion, out of Law Books. I believe, the Proclamation came out in the Metropolis, London, to affright the People from Petitioning by fear of a Quo Warranto against their Charter, and of a Judgment against the City about the Water-Bailiff: As much as to say, "If you will not petition the King, you shall have that Right given;" yet judged theirs by Law this Term. But the City (it seems) was too great a body to be deterred from Petitioning by that, if it were so. I propose this: Jeffreys is Chief Justice of Chester, where mens lives are concerned. He is likewise of the King's Council, and that is a great Trust. If you address to remove him from the Office of a Judge, he is of the King's Council too, and not fit to advise in these things, he has given so ill testimony of his Principles. If you thus address what sense you have of his behaviour, notwithstanding all his mettle he will give up his Recorder's Place. When you put the Question to agree with the Committee upon that, you may make your Address to the King, and desire the Members that serve for the City to signify to the Court of Aldermen your opinion, and they will be sure to get a Recorder that shall keep Laws, and not break them.

Colonel Titus.] I will not go about to extenuate this Offence of the Recorder. By the same reason that men may not petition for sitting of the Parliament, they may not petition for redress of Grievances. He affirmed, "That it was unlawful to petition for the Parliament, &c." As much as to say, "It is unlawful to petition for their Liberties, and preservation of their Liberties." If this be so, it is no matter what of it is lawful. There are calm times, when mens minds are not disturbed, and then it is not so necessary to petition; but this was a time when there was no way of Redress of fears of Popery, &c. but by Parliament. Who could pursue the Plot but the Parliament? There was that fermentation in mens minds by the disturbance of the time—But was this for a Country Gentleman to do, that minds his sports? He should not be troubled with the Government. This Jeffreys was the Gentleman, who, by his knowlege in the Law, should have instructed others. For a Great Man in Authority, it is not only a fault for want of knowlege, but this man knew the Law. If the blind lead the blind, and both fall into the ditch, no-body wonders at it: But when a man has his eyes in his head, to mislead others!—Here is so much to condemn him, and nothing to excuse what he has done. If a man will step into Places by subverting the Law, let him be made an example. See your Vote, and it is all the justice in the World to apply it to this man.

Sir William Hickman.] You must come to the Question, Whether agree, or not agree, with the Committee. The Evidence is fit to be known, and then it is proper to aggravate the offence.

Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Before you come to censure this Gentleman, you are to put the Question, Whether agree, or not agree, with your Committee; and then it is proper for the Gentleman to come, to have your censure upon him.

Resolved, That this House doth agree with the Committee, That Sir George Jeffreys, by traducing and obstructing Petitioning for the sitting of this Parliament, hath betrayed the Rights of the Subject.

Sir John Trevor.] Having agreed with your Committee, and being now about to pass censure upon Jeffreys, if I did think he was either the adviser, or was of opinion that Petitioning for sitting of the Parliament was unlawful, I would lay my hand upon him as soon as any man in England. I will not go about to contradict the Evidence, but if all was laid before you, I believe you will not be of the opinion that he was the adviser. Nothing is a greater offence, and there cannot be a greater crime, than for the King's Counsel to give advice contrary to their knowlege, to destroy King and People. A man that is accused of a great many crimes, and can wipe off some of them, is happy. As to that part of the Charge relating to Juries, that Evidence was heard on both sides, and I do not remember that it was reported. I take it, he stands fair as to his carriage relating to the Libel, and the Rape. This Gentleman has been Recorder of London, many years, and it is a place of great Authority, and it is his happiness that there is no Evidence against him that he ever packed a Jury, or has gone about to clear a person nocent. He has been Counsel for the King when persons were indicted for the horrid Plot, and behaved himself worthily; and if I may say he was too forward in prosecuting, if so, that may make some atonement for his forwardness in other matters. His carriage in this matter of Petitioning was an error in his Judgment, in that he declared it at that time not expedient. He is a Gentleman that has raised himself by his Profession. There is nothing said that he has done wrong to any person in Estate or Life. He said, "he would submit his Case to the Judgment of the House," and I hope in some measure you will take pity of him.

Mr Boscawen.] Trevor has spoken in favour of this Gentleman. I will compare nothing of his actions, but I think he is like the Cow that has given a good pail of milk, and kicked it down again. The crime he is charged with is since the Tryal of the persons for the Plot, and in that he was pretty well disposed. I look upon his saying, "That it was not unlawful to petition," to be as an art he used to bring men off, by persuading them it was not expedient. He has brought in an Authority out of Crooke's Reports, of a Judgment in the Star-Chamber, which was not Law, to persuade the King that all such Petitioning was next to Rebellion, and Sedition. I think the Judgment proposed does not exceed his crime, and pray put that into your Vote, "That he gave an opinion officiously in the Council, when he was neither required by the Council, nor the Court of Aldermen, to give his opinion." I would not only punish him for what he has done, but prevent the like for the future. I would address the King, to put him out of his Commission of Chief Justice of Chester, and recommend it to the City, to chuse them another Recorder.

Sir Robert Clayton.] What he is accused of, is, "That he declared that the popular way of Petitioning, by getting hands, was against Law." But what sticks with me is his officiousness at the Council-Table.

Ordered, That an humble Address be made to his Majesty, to remove Sir George Jeffreys out of all public Offices: [And that this Vote be communicated, by the City Members, to the Court of Aldermen, &c.]

Monday, November 15.

[Mr Secretary Jenkins delivered the following Message from his Majesty:

"Charles R.

"His Majesty did, in his Speech, at the opening of this Session, desire the advice and assistance of his Parliament in relation to Tangier: The condition and importance of the Place obliges his Majesty to put this House in mind again, that here lies upon them for the support of it, without which it cannot be much longer preserved: His Majesty does therefore very earnestly recommend Tangier again to the due and speedy consideration and care of this House (fn. 4)."

It was ordered to be taken into consideration on Wednesday.]

An ingrossed Bill, from the Lords, for the better regulating the Tryal of Peers of England, was read a second time.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] I wish, that, as this way of Tryal is hard for the Lords, as it is now, so I would have something for the Commons in this Bill. I would have something to secure the Commons Appeal against a Peer, for it is hard to come by combat and other formalities. I would have a Clause to make Appeals more easily come by.

Mr Paul Foley.] In all Appeals against a Nobleman, he must come to be tryed by his Peers first. We ought to take care that this Act extend not to Appeals, but that they may be come at more easily. But there is something more; since the Impeachments of the Lords in the Tower, several points have been agreed to us, as, "when a Peer is impeached by the Commons, he ought to be secured." I would have that in the Bill. "And being impeached, not tryable but in Parliament." If that pass not in the Bill, the Lords in the Tower may be tryed out of Parliament. I would have that taken care of.

Sir Henry Ford.] The Bill has more in it than appears in the face of it. If the Lords level themselves with the Commons, they may have Challenges. I thank God, but few Tryals of Peers have been since the King came in, and but few before in the late King's time. I would have the Lords maintain their Honour at the height, but I am afraid that, by this Bill, a Lord found guilty may escape. Fifty are to be summoned upon a Tryal, and thirty five are to appear, and the Lord tryed may have Challenge. If several Peers are to be tryed, and if every one challenges twelve, you will have no Jury; there will not be Peers enough to try them. I would consider of it.

Colonel Titus.] The end of the Lords Bill is, that they may have an equal and indifferent way of Tryal. We know how the Peers are appointed that are to try; by the Lord Steward, &c. and it may be when a Lord is committed, if it be for the advantage of the Ministers, he will have a very favourable Jury, that he may commit more Crimes. When a Lord is to be tryed in Parliament, I find it is wonderfully troublesome; if he have voted with the Commons in any good Bill, he not only will be punished for the Crimes he has committed, but for what he may do hereafter; therefore the Lords have great reason for such a Bill. But let us not be more careful of the Lords than they are of themselves, and I would not make them less humble, by denying them Challenges, than they will make themselves. I mean, that you will commit the Bill upon the Debate.

Mr Hampden.] I am not against offering Clauses to make the Lords Vote of Commitment of a Peer impeached, &c. part of the Bill. But I think that Vote is not revokable. The Lords have made a Declaration of the Right of the Commons, which the Commons have always asserted. I am willing to put as many locks upon the Bill as may be, but I hope it is taken for granted that the Lords have made a Declaration of the Right of the Commons in that point, and I think it is irrevokable already.

Mr Sacheverell.] I think that the Declaration of the Lords is irrevokable. But I remember that a Lord at a Conference did acquaint you, "That the Commons had gained that point of securing a Lord impeached, &c." But the Commons looked upon it as no point gained, and no more than what was their Right before. My Lord Privy Seal opened the Conference, "That this matter was only agreed, when Special Matter in the Accusation was assigned;" and all the Lords at the Conference did declare, that my Lord Privy Seal had no authority from the Lords for that point of Special Matter. But I find it not entered into the Lords Journal; therefore I move to have a declarative Clause, but still retaining it as your Right already.

Mr Dering.] I move that the Bill may be temporary. If it be a good Bill, you may continue it.

Sir John Trevor.] Since this Bill is for indifferent Justice for Tryal of the Peers, I move to have it perpetual, and I would not have that any part of the Debate to commit the Bill upon.

[The Bill was ordered to be committed.]

On the Petition of the Bailiff of Haslemere, to be released from his Confinement, for making a false Return.

Mr Harbord.] There was a Project, in the late Long Parliament, that, in case the King would think fit that 100,000l. might be sprinkled in some Boroughs, and so put Gentlemen to expences to be chosen, they might have a Parliament to their mind. When a Gentleman comes into a Borough a stranger, and is there chosen in the manner that has been at Haslemere, if you do not discountenance such practices, you are lost, and it may be, this is one of the last practices you will be put upon before you are sent home. This being put in practice here, I would set a mark upon this now, to free you from slavery hereafter. This man may be an object of your mercy, being poor; but it seems there was some practice to indemnify this man with one Mr Gresham, and the Sheriff affixed two Indentures to the Return, and he ought to make but one. If one Indenture be made of a Return, and another by way of Certificate, there is no fault committed. Let these Gentlemen tell the Bailiff, "That the House is inclinable to be merciful to him, if he will tell who set him at work;" that you may see what has been the practice to overthrow your Liberties by such Returns. But if he will not declare it, let him lie by it.

Colonel Birch.] I would have the Bailiff here now to declare who set him at work to make this Return. These practices, else, will be soon played upon you again.

[The Bailiff was ordered to be brought to the Bar the next day.]

On carrying up the Bill to exclude the Duke of York.

Mr Hampden.] After you have appointed the Tryal of Lord Stafford, and the Prosecution of the Plot, is there any person who can hinder your Evidence, or stifle it? The reason given, for not carrying the Bill up to the Lords, is, "That there is such irrefragable Evidence of the Duke's being in the Plot, as will induce the Lords to pass the Bill." They lay this, as a great weight to stop it. If they have good Information that there is Evidence, and will take it upon themselves to make it appear, I shall be against the going up of the Bill. I would have no mistake; if they will say that the Evidence is considerable, and not a light Information, I am for staying the Bill.

Colonel Titus.] The Gentleman may be imposed upon in the Evidence. I would consider this Bill, not only for within Doors, but without. They will say, we have done something to be repented of, if we carry not up the Bill; but if these Gentlemen will say there is considerable Evidence yet remaining, I am for staying the Bill; but if Rumour, or Common Fame only, I would carry up the Bill.

Sir John Holman.] I hear it, with a sad heart. Pray send for Sir William Waller, and he will tell you what he knows.

Sir Henry Capel.] If Sir William Waller be at the Door, and have any thing to say to inform you of importance, pray call him in. It seems to stand upon this point, that Evidence will come in betwixt this and Thursday. The Lords always encourage Evidence; and as the Lords do, so should we, and I hope the Lords will not precipitate any thing of the Bill, if there be farther Evidence, and that the Lords will use the prudentest way.

Colonel Birch.] I would look on both sides this business. If you stay the Bill going up to the Lords, you must have some grounds from Evidence the better to carry on the Bill there. I am one of those that believe we never had had any such Evidence of the Plot as has come in, had it not been for this Bill, and it is that which gives the encouragement (for they are gallant Fellows that dare come in.) If this Bill miscarry to-day in the Lords House, the Evidence will dwindle to nothing. I never knew it denied upon Reason, but that the carrying up a Bill may be deferred.

Mr Harbord.] The matter is short. We must trust the King, or he us. If we stay till Wednesday, that the Debate of Tangier may be over, and send the Bill up on Thursday, then comes on the Debate of Money. I am for the King to trust us, for I will be bold to say, we have had such a Succession of Ministers and Crimes, since the Breach of the Triple League, as never was in story. The single reason for deferring the carrying up this Bill to the Lords till Thursday, is, "That the business of Tangier is to be debated, and that the want of Money for Tangier will induce the King to pass the Bill the more easily." Will the King have the Money-Bill thrown out of the Lords House, when he will ipso facto see that he will have no Money for Tangier?

Mr Colt.] I have seen that Evidence which Sir William Waller can produce, and it is but a Paper of great things, and no name to it. I believe it is but a sham.

Sir Henry Capel.] The Bill was ordered to be carried up, and no man can speak against it without leave.

The Speaker.] So far you have voted already, "That Lord Russel should carry up the Bill;" and now you had better go by the general voice of the House than by a Question; but I submit it to you.

Sir Christopher Musgrave.] You have been regular in the Debate; but the Question is, "Whether the Bill shall be now ordered to be carried up?" Unless a time has been appointed, there may be a Question upon it, and that is the Order of the House.

The Bill was carried up without a Question (fn. 5).


  • 1. Even Mr Secretary Jenkins, for the sins of his Office, became ob noxious to the heat of the times. One Norris, a Taylor, had been dispatched to France, to bring over one Dowdal, a Priest, who was supposed to be in the whole secret of the Plot; and a description of his person, and an account of his errand, part written by one Dr Day, and part by one Mr Sheridan, having been given, about three weeks or a month after Norris's departure, to the Secretary, a letter was written by his order to the Mayor of Dover, enjoining him "to take some handsome course to detain the said Norris in his return, as also the person or persons that he should bring over with him, till he should receive farther directions concerning him." Accordingly, Norris no sooner landed at Dover than he was seized and thrown into the common prison; but finding means to get free, presents himself before the Bar of the House of Commons with his complaint, &c. where it farther appeared, that an Order of Council, dated July 18, 1679, was obtained for Dowdal to come to Dover for a month, that before the said Order could take effect Dowdal died, and not without suspicion of a violent death. Ralph.
  • 2. The younger Brother of one, who, from mean beginnings, had by iron-works raised one of the greatest estates that had been in England in one time. He was a learned, though not a practising, Lawyer, and was a man of virtue and good principles, but morose and wilfull; and he had the affectation of passing for a great Patriot, by his constant finding fault with the Government, and keeping up an ill humour and a bad opinion of the Court. Burnet. He was twice chosen Speaker, and was Uncle to the first Lord Foley.
  • 3. This overbearing Lawyer, being afterwards made Lord Chief Justice, &c. was notoriously distinguished in the succeeding Annals of this and the following reign, for his arbitrary proceedings on the Bench, and particularly for his cruelties in the West after the Duke of Monmouth's defeat in 1685. At the Revolution, being then Lord Chancellor, having disguised himself in a sailor's habit, in order to escape to Hamburgh, he was accidentally discovered by the mob, and by the Lord Mayor sent to the Tower, where he soon after ended his days under great misery and affliction.
  • 4. On the day the Exclusion-Bill had been left with the Lords, his Majesty had by Message demanded a Supply for Tangier, without which, it was urged, that Place could not be much longer preserved. There was some truth in this, and some fallacy, as there is generally in all demands of the like nature. Tangier was indeed in some distress, but the King was in more, and whatever was given in relief of the first, would also have contributed to the relief of the last. But, on the other hand, the Commons very well knew they had not been assembled to make fine Speeches in the House, or render themselves popular at the expence of the Royal Family. Like the fine Lady in the Comedy, there was but one thing they could do to pleasure the Court, which was, giving Money, and that being once done, they also knew, that an instant dismission would follow; there was therefore no pretence, how plausible soever, that the King could use, to show the necessity and reasonableness of his having recourse to the benevolence of his Subjects, but what they were prepared with pretences as plausible to evade and refuse. Ralph.
  • 5. The Exclusion-Bill was quickly brought up to the House of Lords. The Earls of Essex and Shaftsbury argued most for it; and the Earl of Halifax was the champion on the other side. He gained great honour in the Debate; and had a visible superiority to Lord Shaftsbury in the opinion of the whole House: And that was to him triumph enough. In conclusion, the Bill was thrown out upon the first reading. The Country Party brought it nearer an equality than was imagined they could do, considering the King's earnestness in it, and that the whole Bench of Bishops [except three] was against it. Burnet. Till eleven O'clock at night the rage of altercation and the lust of superiority kept up the Contest, the King being present all the while, and the whole House of Commons attending, who had adjourned their own Proceedings to indulge their curiosity in observing the progress and event of this. Ralph. This was one of the greatest Days ever known in the House of Lords, with regard to the importance of the business they had in hand, which concerned no less than the lineal Succession to the Crown. Great was the Debate, and great were the Speakers: The chief of those for the Bill was the Earl of Shaftsoury; the chief of those against it, Lord Halifax. It was matter of surprize that the latter should appear at the head of an Opposition to the former, when they were wont always to draw together [Sir John, it seems, was ignorant of the animosity between these Lords] but the Business in agitation was against Lord Halifax's judgment, and therefore he opposed it with vigour; and being a man of the clearest head, finest wit; and fairest eloquence, he made so powerful a Defence, that he alone, so all confessed, influenced the House, and persuaded them to throw out the Bill. Reresby. The Numbers on the Division were 63 to 30. A Protest was entered on the occasion by Lord Crew.