Passages in Parliament: November - December 1640

Pages 1-18

Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 8, 1640-41. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.

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In this section

An Introductive Account of several Passages, previous to the Grand Tryal of Thomas Earl of Strafford,

who was Impeached by the House of Commons on the 11th of November 1640. As also of passages and proceedings in Parliament from that time, unto the 22th of March the same year, when his Tryal first began in Westminster-Hall.
Likewise an Account of Proceedings and remarkable passages in both Houses of Parliament, and some material Matters elsewhere Concomitant to the said Tryal, during the time it lasted, which was until the
30th of April, 1641.

Friday, November 6th, 1640.

The House of Commons having in the first place, according to ancient Custom, settled all their Grand Committees for Religion, Grievances, Courts of Justice, Trade, and Priviledges; It was moved, That in regard the Complaints of the Kings subjects in Ireland were many, who had undergone great Oppressions in that Kingdom by Male-Government there, and come to this Parliament for Relief, might be referred to a Committee of the whole House for that purpose only to be appointed. This motion being made by Mr. Pym, and seconded by Sir John Clotworthy, avowing many particulars of the Complaints mentioned to be true, it made a Discovery to such as were well-wishers to Thomas Lord Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that this Motion was intended by a side-wind, to accumulate Complaints against him the said Lord Lieutenant, in order to an Accusation; so when the Question was put, after long debate, viz. Whether the Irish Affairs should be referred to a Committee of the whole House? The House was divided, Sir John clotworthy and sir Henry Mildmay being of Opinion for the Yeas, were appointed Tellers of the Number of the Noes; and Sir Edward Bainton and Sir Richard Luson being of Opinion, not to refer this business of Ireland to a Grand Committee, conceiving it without President, were appointed Tellers of the Number of the Yeas; and when they had told all, they came up to the Table, and made this Report to Mr. Speaker, That there were with the Yeas 165, and with the Noes 152, whereupon it was Resolved upon the Question, That the Irish Affairs should be referred to a Grand Committee of the whole House, to meet tomorrow in the Afternoon at Two of the Clock in the House, and afterwards every Thursday at the same Hour and Place: And this Committee is Ordered to have the like Power as the other Grand Committees of the whole House have.

This Vote being carried for a Grand Committee as to Irish Affairs, a Cabal of Friends to the Earl of Strafford, sent down Post unto him into York-shire to acquaint him, that they apprehended a Design against him in the making of this Committee, and left it to his own Election, whether he would stay still on the Head of his Army, or come up to the Parliament. But if he did encline to come up, that he would, at his first appearance, Impeach some Members of both Houses (if he had Evidence for the same) of being privy to the bringing the Scotch Army into this Kingdom, and told him, It was his Wisdom to begin first, and not to be first Impeached, as the Earl of Bristol was by the great Duke of Buckingham. The said Earl, upon the receipt of this Advertisement, suddenly resolved to come up and abide the Test of Parliament. But his Friends then with him in the North, told him, That his frank appearance would make Politicians doubt, whether he did thereby assume his Judgment and wonted Prudence, to go thus from his Army to the Parliament, where his Wisdom could not but know, that the Scots and Scotizing-English had resolved his destruction, and therefore (said they) unto him, It were better to keep under the safe-guard of the English Army, at his Command, (from which he had acquired some affection) or retire to the Army in Ireland, then being also at his Devotion, or take Sanctuary in some Foreign Parts, till fair weather might invite him home, neither (said they) would Discretion Vote it a betraying of his Innocency to decline a Trial, whereby the means of Factions raised in England and Scotland by his malicious Prosecutors, and backed with Power, his Innocency could not protect him. They farther told him, that if Sentence should pass against him for Non-appearance, yet he had kept his freedom till better times, when he might have occasion to do His Master better Service abroad, than in Council at White-Hall.

But the said Earl conceiving he had got good Evidence in the North, that the Scots came in by Invitation and Confederacy, between the Heads of the Covenanters and some of the English Members of both Houses, and having digested such his Intelligence almost into the form of an Impeachment, he posted up with the same, intending to present it to the House of Peers, as soon as he arrived there. But on Wednesday, Nov. 11th the House of Commons being acquainted by a Member, that there was a business of great weight to be imparted, desired the House that the Lobby without might be first cleared, and the Key of the House brought up to the Table, which was done accordingly; and as the House had entred into debate about the Earl of Strafford, there came a Message from the Lords by the Lord Chief Justice Bramston and Judge Foster, That the King had commanded the Lords Commissioners, who were appointed to Treat with the Scots Commissioners at Rippon, to give an Account to both Houses of Parliament of that which passed there and at York, and thereupon the Lords desire there may be a meeting, by a Committee of both Houses this Afternoon in the Painted Chamber at Three of the Clock, if the occasions of this House will give leave.

At this time many Members of the House conceived this Message was now sent, to get Intelligence, what private debate was in hand; The House of Commons returned this Answer by the same Messengers, That at this time they were in Agitation of very Weighty and Important Affairs, and therefore they do doubt they shall not be ready, to give them a meeting this Afternoon, as the Lords desire, but as soon as they may, they will send an Answer by Messengers of their own.

After the Messengers were withdrawn, the House proceeded in the Debate they were in before, and appointed a Committee to prepare matter upon the said Debate, for a Conference with the Lords, concerning the Earl of Strafford, and named seven Members, viz.

  • Mr. Pym,
  • Mr. Stroud,
  • Mr. St. John,
  • Lord Digby,
  • Sir John Clotworthy,
  • Sir Walter Earle, and
  • Mr. Hampden.

Which select Committee retired immediately into the Committee-Chamber, to prepare Matter of a Conference to be prayed with the Lords, and a Charge against the Earl of Strafford.

Resolved to Accuse the E. of Strafford of High Treason.

The said Committee presently returned to the House, and reported the Matter to them referred; Whereupon it was Resolved upon the Question, That a Message be sent from this House to the Lords, in the Name of this House, and of all the Commons of England, to accuse Thomas Lord Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, of High Treason, and desire that he may be Sequestred from Parliament, and be Committed to Prison; and that within some convenient time this House will resort to their Lordships with particular Accusations and Articles against him.

Mr. Pym went up with this Message to the Lords, and at his Return made this Report to the House.

Report of the Message of High Treason.

That he had Repaired to the Lords, and there, in the Name of this House, and of all the Commons of England, did Accuse the said Earl of Strafford of High Treason and that he had also delivered the other Particulars he had in Charge. Their Lordships Answer was, That they do desire to take this weighty Matter into their serious Consideration, and will speedily send an Answer by Messengers of their own.

After wards Mr. Pym was sent up to the Lords, with a Message that some fit course be taken, that there may be free Passage between England and Ireland, notwithstanding any Restraint made there to the contrary.

Message of Sequestration of the Earl of Strafford.

The same day came a Message from the Lords by the two Chief Justices, That the Lords have taken into serious Consideration, the Accusation sent from this House against the Earl of Strafford, and have Sequestred him from the House, and have Committed him in safe Custody to the Messenger of their House, and they will move his Majesty, that the Passage from Ireland into England may be open, notwithstanding any Restraint made there to the contrary.

The Message delivered by Mr. Pym was in manner following:

My Lords, The Knights, Citizens and Burgesses now Assembled in the Commons House of Parliament, have received Information of divers Traiterous Designs and Practices of a great Peer of this House, and by virtue of a Command from them, I do here in the Name of the Commons now Assembled in Parliament, and in the Name of all the Commons of England, Accuse Thomas Earl of Strafford, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, of High Treason: And they have Commanded me further to desire your Lordships, that he may be Sequestred from the Parliament, and forthwith committed to Prison. They further Commanded me to let you know, that they will within a very few days resort to your Lordships with the particular Articles and Grounds of this Accusation.

The Earl being required to withdraw, it was debated by the Peers Whether he should be Imprisoned on a general Accusation, without any particular act of Treason charged against him or not? But upon the question it was carried in the Affirmative, and he being called in, kneeled at the Bar; and after standing up, the Lord-keeper spake to him as followeth:

The L. Keeper to the Earl of Strafford.

My Lord of Strafford, The House of Commons, in their own Name, and in Name of the whole Commons of England, have this day Accused your Lordship to the Lords of the Higher House of Parliament of High Treason, the Articles they will in a few days produce; in the mean time they have desired of my Lords, and my Lords have accordingly Resolved, That your Lordship shall be committed into safe Custody to the Gentlemen-Usher, and be Sequestred from the House, till your Lordship shall clear your self of the Accusations that shall be laid against you. And thereupon he was immediately taken into Custody by James Maxwell, Usher of the Black Rod.

Thursday, Novemb. 12th. 1640.

Message from the Lords.

A message came from the Lords by the Lord chief Justice Littleton, and the Lord Chief Baron Davenport:

Conference, that Ports of Ireland shall be open.

That the Lords have Commanded Us to let You know, that in Pursuit of your desire Yesterday, to have the Ports open between Ireland and England, some of the Lords had moved His Majesty in it, and it shall be done speedily and effectually.

This day the House fell into serious Debate concerning Sir George Ratcliff, an Intimate of the Lord Lieutenants of Ireland, in whom he reposed great Trust and Confidence, and by the discourse was if he were guilty of High Treason, in endeavoring to subvert the Fundamental Laws, and that he join with the Earl to bring in an Army from Ireland into this Kingdom, and had joined with the Earl to use Regal Power, and to deprive the Subjects of this Kingdom of their Liberties. It was moved that he might be sent for over; as also for Sir Robert King. Who is a material Witness against the Earl of Strafford. But for as much as they were Members of the Parliament then fitting in Ireland, it was referred to a Committee, viz.

Committee how to send fore Sir George Ratcliff.

  • Mr. St. Johns,
  • Mr. Selden,
  • Mr. Jeofrey Palmer,
  • Mr. Sollicitor,
  • Mr. Maynard,
  • Mr. Grimston,
  • Mr. Chadwell.

Which Committee had Power to consider what was fit to be done in sending for Sir George Ratcliff, and Sir Robert King, in regard they are Members of the said Parliament now sitting in Ireland, and to present it to the Consideration of this House, and are to meet tomorrow Morning at Seven of the Clock in the Committee-Chamber.

Mr. Speaker to fit at the Grand Committee for Irish Affairs.

Ordered, Mr. Speaker be intreated to be here this Afternoon, to fit by, at the Great Committee for Irish Affairs, and if there be Cause, to resume the House.

Irish Affairs.

And accordingly the Grand Committee of the whole House fate this Afternoon upon the Irish Affairs, and the Speaker fate by, according to Order. There came word that the Lords were come, and expected the Committee of this House at the conference, concerning the Proceedings at the great Council at York Mr. Speaker assumed the Chair, and it was moved, That the Committees that fate in other places, might be sent for to attend the Conference, that those Gentlemen might be sent for by the Mace that were gone before to the conference.

The House rose, and the committee went up to meet the Committee of the Lords at the conference, and Mr. Speaker adjourned the House, and went home.

Friday, November 13th, 1640.

Committee concerning the Earl of Strafford.

Ordered, that the committee for preparing the Charge against the Lord Lieutenant, being now Sine die, meet this Afternoon at Four of the clock in the Treasury-chamber, which committee has Power to receive all such Petitions and Papers, as may conduce to the business, and have likewise Power to send for records, Papers, Parties, and witnesses, or any other thing that they shall think may conduce to the perfecting that Charge.

The King's solicitor of sending for Sir George Ratcliff and sir Robert King, being, as is informed, Members of the Parliament in Ireland.

That the Committee were Opinion, That it is better to examine this Matter, according to the rules and foundations of this House, than to rest upon scattered Instances: they distinguished between the Case of Sir George Ratcliff and Sir Robert King thus, We find an Information given (which if it be true) of High treason against Sir George Ratcliff, then there is no doubt, but in Case of High Treason, Privileged of Parliament neither here nor there doth reach to protect him, but that sir George Ratcliff may be sent for, though a Member in Parliament there; this was the Opinion of the Committee.

For the other, Sir Robert King, the Case did differ, for to send for him testifie in any Café, were of dangerous Consequence; or to send for him to testifie in the Kings Bench in Case of Treason, where the court doth ordinarily fit; but this Case differs between sending for a Member of Parliament to give Evidence in any ordinary thing, or in any ordinary Court, for the parliament is a court that doth not ordinarily fit, a court of the great affairs of the Kingdom; therefore to be sent for hither to this High court, and to testifie in a Case of the highest nature, in case of treason informed of against Sir George Ratcliff, We did conceive it to be no breach of Privileged of Parliament that he should be sent for, and it the House require of us our Opinions concerning the manner of sending for him, we shall tell you what we conceive of it.

Resolutions thereupon.

Which report being made, It was resolved upon the Question:

That Sir George Ratcliff shall be forthwith sent for, to answer the Information that is Charged against him here of High Treason.

Resolved upon the Question, that Sir Robert King shall forthwith be sent for hither, as a witness to testifie in case of High Treason.

Mr. Solicitor likewise offered, from the committee, to the consideration of the House, two Orders, which were read, in hæc verba, and by Vote Ordered accordingly, viz.

Sir Rob. King to be sent for.

It is Ordered by this House upon the Question, That Sir George Ratcliff being, as is informed, a Member of the Parliament in Ireland, because there is an Information in this House of High Treason against him, shall be forthwith sent for, and brought hither in safe Custody, no Privileged of Parliament extending to this Case.

Ordered two Messengers to be sent with these Orders, and each Messenger to have Copies of both the Orders.


It was likewise Offered from the Committee, That the Honorable Persons, near the Chair, would beseech his Majesty, that He would be pleased to give such Directions, as in His Wisdom He shall think fit for the more Expeditious sending for these Parties. Mr. Treasurer delivered this Message to His Majesty.

Saturday, November 14th, 1640.

Mr. Treasurer Reports the Message from the King.

Mr. Treasurer after he had read out of a Paper, the Message which Yesterday the House desired him to deliver to His Majesty: Declared; that he had acquainted the King therewith, who, this morning, hath given Order to Mr. secretary Windebank, who deals for the Affairs into Ireland, to make instant Dispatch to the Deputy there, that all Expedition be done according to the Message. Secondly, Concerning the three Letters desired by my Lord Mountnorris; they were procured by Mr. Secretary Cook, who was imployed about the Affairs for Ireland at that time, that he is now in the Country in Darbyshire; His Majesty will take some time to be informed in this, and no time shall be lost, and there shall be an Account given.

Wednesday, November 18th, 1640.

No Member to visit the E. of Strafford without leave. Message to the Lords for a Committee to examine Witnesses.

Ordered that no member of this House shall the visit Earl of Strafford, during the time of his Restraint, without License first obtained from the House.

Ordered a Message be sent to the Lords, to desire them, that they would please to appoint a Committee of a very few, that in preference of some of this House might take such Depositions, and examine such Witnesses as they should name, upon Interrogatories and Questions, as shall be presented to them by Order of this House Concerning the Earl of Strafford, and the Interrogatories, Testimonies, and Witnesses to be kept private, until the Charge be made full and perfect.

Ordered that Mr. Pym go up with this Message, accompanied with so many as shall be pleased to go.

Approbation of the Lords Petitioners for a Parliament.

Then the House fell into Debate, concerning those Lords who petitioned the King for a Parliament to be called: Whereupon it was Resolved upon the Question, That those Lords which were Petitioners to His Majesty at York; in their Petition, a Copy whereof was here now read, have done nothing but what was Legal, Just, and Expedient for the good of the King and Kingdom, and is now approved by the whole body of the commons.

Petition to be Entered.

Resolved upon the Question, That the Copy of the Petition now read, and formerly preferred by the Lords to His Majesty at York, shall be here Entered.

The Copy of the said Petition is inserted in Folio 1260. of the Second Part of Historical Collections.

Thursday, November 19th, 1640

Speedy examinations against the Earl of Strafford by Members of both Houses.

It is Ordered, That if occasion shall be for the examination of any Members of this House in the business concerning the Earl of Strafford, they shall be ready upon Notice, to be examined upon Oath. It is like-wise Ordered, That upon the Message to be sent from this House, the Lords be desired to make the like Order for the Members and Assistants of their House, and to desire their Lordships, that if occasion be, that any Privy-Counselors be produced as Witnesses, they will take such course as in their Judgments they shall think fit, that they may be examined.

This Message to be sent to morrow morning, by the Messengers formerly sent.

Committee to search Attainders.

  • Mr. St. Johns,
  • Mr. Palmer,
  • Mr. Glimer,
  • Mr. Seldem
  • Mr. Grimstone,
  • Mr. Maynard,
  • Sir Simond D'ewes,
  • Mr. Whistler,
  • Mr. Thomas Widerington,
  • Mr. Sollicitor.

This Select Committee, or any two of them, are appointed to search the Record of Attainder in the Kings Bench, in such manner, and at such time, as they shall think fit, for the furtherance of the Charge in hand against the Earl of Strafford.

Friday, November 20th, 1640.

Report Irish Remonstrance, which see at large P. 11, 12, 13.

Mr. Whistler Reported from the Committee for Irish Affairs, that he is required, by the Committee, to Report to the House the Affairs of that Kingdom, as they were set forth in a Remonstrance, made by the House of Commons in this present Parliament in Ireland, wherein it appeared that Trading was destroyed, Industry disheartened, new and unlawful Impositions were Imposed, the Arbitrary Determinations of all Causes for Goods, Land and Possessions, by Petitions, and Act at Council-Table where no Writ of Error can lie, and the King loseth a Fine upon Original Writ thereby: That His Majesties Gracious Inclination for the good of that Kingdom is kept from them: That there is a Monopoly of the sole Trade of Tobacco, of more gain to the Parties interessed therein, than the King's whole revenue in Ireland. The destroying of the Plantation of London-Derry; The Exorbitant Power of the High Commission, which cryeth loud in all the three Kingdoms: The Proclamation forbidding any to depart thence for England without License, and pay dear for it: The many Subsidies given, and Moneys raised for the King, and still he is in Debt, and therefore demands an account of His Treasure, and desires present Redress, or Access to His Majesty.

A Copy of the Remonstrance was delivered in, under the Hand of the Clerk of the Parliament there, and was read, and shall be entered, if so Ordered.

Book of Petitions sent for over.

That the Secretaries there, Mr. Slingsby and Mr. Little, be required to send hither the Book of Entries of the several Petitions presented to the late Lord Deputy, now Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and the several Orders and Proceedings thereupon made.

Warrants for Taxes upon Tobacco.

That Mr. Little the younger and Mr. Carpenter, who have the Monopoly for Tobacco, be required to send hither those Warrants by which they demand, and have laid those Taxes upon Tobacco.

Entries of Impositions.

That the several Affairs of the custom-House and Ports, (viz.) Dublin, Kingsale, Yowhall, Watersord, Corke, Galloway, Carrick-Fergus, and Bangor be required to send hither their Books of entries, whereby the Impositions laid upon several commodities, may appear; there were several Warrants issued forth according to this Order, and sent away.

Post Merid.

The Articles offered by a Member of this House against the Earl of Strafford are referred to the committee, that are to draw up the Charge against the said Earl, which being Reported, were as followeth:

Articles of the commons assembled in Parliament against Thomas Earl of Strafford, in maintenance of his Accusation, whereby he stands charged of High Treason.

Articles against Thomas Earl of Strafford.

1. That he the said Thomas, Earl of Strafford, hath traitorously endeavoured to subvert the fundamental Laws and government of the realms of England and Ireland, and in stead thereof, to introduce an Arbitrary and Tyrannical Government against Law, which he hath declared by traitorous words, Counsels, and Actions, and by giving His Majesty Advice, by force of Arms, to compel his Loyal Subjects to submit thereunto.

2. That he hath traitorously assumed to himself Regal Power over the Lives, Liberties, Persons, Lands, and Goods of His Majesties Subjects in England and Ireland, and hath exercised the same Tyrannically, to the subversion and undoing of many, both of Peers and others of His Majesties Liege People.

3. That the better to inrich and inable himself to go through with his traitorous Designs; he hath detained a great part of His Majesties Revenue, without giving Legal account; and hath taken great Sums out of the Exchequer, converting them to his won Use, when His Majesty wanted Money for His own urgent Occasions, and His Army had been a long time unpaid.

4. That he hath traitorously abused the Power and authority of his government, to the encreasing, countenancing, and encouraging of Papists, that so he might settle a mutual Dependance and Confidence betwixt himself and that Party, and by their help prosecute and accomplish his malicious and tyrannical Designs.

5. That he hath maliciously endeavoured to stir up Enmity and Hostility between His majesties subjects of England, and those of Scotland.

6. That he hath traitorously broke the great Trust reposed in him by His Majesty, of Lieutenant-General of His Army, by willful betraying divers of His Majesties Subjects to death, his Army to a dishonourable Defeat by the Scots at Newborne, and the Town of New-Castle into their hands, to the end, that by the effusion of blood, by dishonour, and so great a loss as that of New-Castle, His Majesties Realm of England might be engaged in a National and irreconcilable Quarrel with the Scots.

7. That to preserve himself from being questioned for those and other his traiterous Courses, he laboured to subvert the Right of Parliaments, and the ancient course of Parliamentary Proceedings, and by false and malicious Slanders, to incense His Majesty against Parliaments. By which Words, Counsels, and Actions, he hath traiterously, and contrary to his Allegiance, laboured to alienate the Hearts of the King's Liege People from His Majesty, to set a Division between them, and to ruine and destroy His Majesties Kingdoms, for which they Impeach him of High Treason against our Soveraign Lord the King, His Crown and Dignity.

8. And he the said Earl of Strafford was Lord-Deputy of Ireland, and Lieutenant-General of the Army there, viz. His most Excellent Majesty, for His Kingdoms both of England and Ireland, and the Lord President of the North, during the time that all and every the Crimes and Offences before set forth were done and committed; and he the said Earl was Lieutenant-General of all His Majesties Army in the North parts of England, during the time that the Crimes and Offences in the fifth and sixth Articles set forth were done and committed.

9. That the said Commons by Protestations, saving to themselves the liberty of Exhibiting at any time hereafter any other Accusation or Impeachment against the said Earl; and also of replying to the Answers that he the said Earl shall make unto the said Articles, or to any of them and of offering Proofs; also of the Premisses, or any of them; or any other Impeachment or Accusation that shall be exhibited by them, as the Cause shall, according to the course of Parliaments, require, do pray that the said Earl may be put to Answer for all and every of the Premisses, that such Proceedings, Examinations, Trials and Judgments may be upon every of them, had and used as is agreeable to Law and Justice.

Tuesday, November 24th, 1640.

Articles to be engrossed.

These A88rticles thus Resolved upon by Question, were by another Question Ordered to be engrossed against to morrow Morning, and no Copies to be delivered of them in the Interim; and the same Committee that prepared the Charge is to draw up the Interrogatories, and Mr. Pym is to go up to the Lords with the Charge.

Wednesday, November 25th, 1640.

Conference concerning the Earl of Straffords Articles.

Lord Digby went up with this Message to the Lords:

That this House desires a Conference with their Lordships, by a Committee of both Houses, concerning the Articles to be Exhibited against the Earl of Strafford.

Lord Digby brings Answer, That their Lordships have Considered the Message, and desire to meet a Committee of that House, with a Committee of theirs, presently in the Painted-Chamber.

Articles ingrossed.

The ingrossed Articles were again openly read in the House, and agreed to be sent up to the Lords by Mr. Pym, by a Vote upon the Question.

Mr. Pym gets leave to speak.

Mr. Pym before he went, made a short Declaration of the substance of that he intended to deliver unto the Lords, both before and after the delivery of the Articles.

Mr. Pym Reports the Conference.

Mr. Pym's Report of the Conference with the Lords, in delivering up the Articles against the Earl of Strafford, that he attended the great Committee of this House, and, in their presence, delivered to the Committee of the Lords House the Charge against the Earl of Strafford, and if any thing passed him through weakness, or disability, he desires the excuse of this House.

Thanks to Mr. Pym.

It was moved, that Mr. Pym might have Thanks for his well delivery of the Charge against the Earl of Strafford.

Friday, November 27th, 1640.

Message for a Conference.

A Message from the Lords by Justice Littleton and Justice Bartley.

The Lords desire a Conference by a Committee of thirty of their House, with a proportionable number of this House, concerning the Message that was brought unto them by Mr. Pym, touching the Examination of their Members, in the Accusation of the Earl of Strafford, and desire a free Conference touching the last Point of that Message, that some of the Members of this House should be present at the Examination, and they desire it this morning in the Painted-Chamber, if it may stand with the conveniency of this House.


Answer returned by the same Messenger, That this House has taken into Consideration their Lordships Message, and will in Convenient time return Answer by Messengers of their own.

Saturday, November 28th, 1640.

Mr. Whistler's Report from the Committee for Irish Affairs.

Mr. Whistler Reports from the Grand Committee for Irish Affairs, that there are many Petitions, and full of matter of Complaints of the proceedings in Ireland, and Suitors here for Justice. There are many Petitioners here whose Estates are so exhausted, that they are scarce able to bring Witnesses from Ireland hither; many great Persons of Quality and Trust are in Ireland, material Witnesses to be examined, as the Master of the Rolls, the Lord Chancellor, and others; these can hardly be spared, to come hither, to give their Testimony. The Committee desires the Advice of the House in this particular (which without their Judgments cannot be determined) to think of some way how these Parties might have their Testimony taken, and the Truth might be known, and Justice done. This whole matter thus Reported from the Committee for Irish Affairs, is recommitted to the same Committee again to consider of it, and to draw those things that are to be inquired of under apt Heads, and so present them to the judgment of this House to proceed accordingly.

  • Mr. Maynard,
  • Mr. St. Johns,
  • Mr. Hide,
  • Mr.Whistler,
  • Mr. Jeofrey Palmer,
  • Mr. Glyn,
  • Mr. Sollicitor.

This committee is to Collect and Offer to this House, Reasons for this House to make use of, and insist upon, in maintainance of that Point of the Message of this House to the Lords, which desires the presence of some of the Members of this House, at the Examination of such Witnesses, as shall be Proposed by this House in the Accusation of the Earl of Strafford.

To the Right Honble the Lord-Deputy.

The Humble and just Remonstrance of the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the Parliament assembled.

That in all Ages since the happy Subjection of this Kingdom to the Imperial Crown of England, it was, and is a Principal Study, and Princely Care of His Majesty, and His Noble Progenitors, Kings and Queens of England and Ireland, to the vast Expence of Treasure and Blood; that their Loyal and Dutiful people of this Land of Ireland, being now, for the most part, derived from British Ancestors, should be Governed according to the Municipal and Fundamental Laws ofEngland, that the Statue of Magna Charta, or the Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and other Laudable Laws and Statues, were in several Parliaments here Enacted and Declared, That by the means thereof, and of the most Prudent and Benign Government of His Majesty, and His Royal Progenitors, this Kingdom was, until of late, in its growth a Flourishing Estate, whereby the said people were heretofore enabled, to answer their humble and natural desires, to comply with His Majesties Princely and Royal Occasions, by their free Gift of 150 Thousand Pounds Sterling; and likewise by another free Gift of 120 Thousand Pounds more, during the Government of the Lord Viscount Faulkland, and after by the Gift of 40 Thousand Pounds; and their free and chearful Gift of six intire Subsidies in the 10th Year of His Majesties Reign, which, to comply with His Majesties then Occasions, signified to the then House of Commons, They did allow should amount, in the Collections, unto 250 Thousand Pounds (although, as they confidently believe) if the Subsidies had been levied in a moderate Parliamentary way, they would not have amounted to much more than half the Sum aforesaid, besides the four intire Subsidies granted in this present Parliament. So it is, May it please Your Lordship, by the occasion of the ensuing, and other Grievances and Innovations (though to His Majesty no considerable Profit) this Kingdom is reduced to that extream and universal Poverty, that the same is less able to pay Subsidies than it was heretofore, to satisfie all the before recited great Payments: And His Majesties most Faithful people of the Land do conceive great fears, that the said Grievances and Consequences thereof, may be hereafter drawn into Presidents, to be perpetuated upon their Posterity, which in their great Hopes, and strong Beliefs, they are perswaded is contrary to His Royal and Princely intention towards His said people; some of which said Grievances are as followeth:

1. The general apparent decay of Trade, occasioned by the new and illegal raising of the Book of Rates and Impositions upon Native, and other Commodities, Exported and Imported, by reason whereof, and of extream Usage and Censures, Merchants are beggared, and both disenabled and discouraged to Trade, and some of the honourable Persons who gain thereby, are often Judges and Parties, and that in the conclusion His Majesties Profit thereby is not considerably advanced.

2. The Arbitrary decision of all civil Causes and Controversies, by paper Petitions, before the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Deputy, and infinite other Judicatories upon reference from them, derived in the nature of all Actions determinable at the Common Law, not limited into certain time, cause, season, or thing whatsoever: And the consequences of such proceedings, by receiving immoderate and unlawful Fees, by Secretaries, Clerks, Pursevanats, Serjeants at Arms, and otherwise, by which kind of proceedings His Majesty loseth a considerable part of his Revenue upon Original Writs, and otherwise; and the Subject loseth the benefit of his Writ of Error, Bill of Reversal, Vouchers, and other legal and just Advantages, and the ordinary Course and Courts of Justice declined.

3. The proceedings in civil Causes at Council-Board, contrary to the Law and great Charter, not limited to any certain time or season.

4. That the Subject is, in all the material parts thereof, denied the benefit of the Princely Graces, and more especially of the Statute of Limitations of 21 of Jac granted by His Majesty in the Fourth Year of His Reign, upon great Advice of the Councils of England and Ireland, and for great Consideration, and then published in all the Courts of Dublin, and in all the Counties of this Kingdom, in open Assizes, whereby all Persons do take notice, That contrary to His Majesties Pious Intentions, His Subjects of this Land have not enjoyed the benefit of His Majesties Princely Promise thereby made.

5. The extrajudicial avoiding of Letters Patents of Estates, of a very great part of His Majesties Subjects, under the Great Seal (the Publick Faith of the Kingdom) by private Opinions, delivered at the Council-Board, without Legal Evictions of their Estates, contrary to Law, and without President or Example of any former Age.

6. The Proclamation for the sole emption and uttering of Tobacco, which is bought at very low Rates, and uttered at high and excessive Rates, by means whereof thousands of Families within this Kingdom, and of His Majesties Subjects in several Islands, and other parts of the West-Indies (as your Petitioners are informed) are destroyed; and the most part of the Coin of this Kingdom is ingrossed into particular Hands, insomuch that your Petitioners do conceive that the Profit arising and ingrossed thereby, doth surmount His Majesties Revenue, certain or casual, within this Kingdom, and yet His Majesty receiveth but very little profit by the same.

7. The universal and unlawful encreasing of Monopolies, to the advantage of a few, the disprofit of His Majesty, and impoverishment of His people.

8. And the extream cruel Usage of certain late Commissioners, and other Stewards of the British Farmers and Inhabitants of the City and County of London-Derry, by means whereof the worthy Plantation of that Country is almost destroyed, and the Inhabitants are reduced to great Poverty, and many of them forced to forsake the Country, the same being the first and most useful Plantation in the large Province of Ulster, to the great weakning of the Kingdom in this time of danger; the said Plantation being the principal Strength of those parts.

9. The late Erection of the Court of High Commission, for Causes Ecclesiastical, in these necessitous Times; the proceedings of the said Court, in many Causes without legal Warrant, and yet so supported as Prohibitions have not been obtained, though legally sought for: And the excessive Fees exacted by the Ministers thereof, and the encroaching of the same upon the Jurisdiction of other Ecclesiastical Courts of this Kingdom.

10. The exorbitant Fees, and pretended Customs, exacted by the Clergy against the Law, some of which have been formerly represented to your Lordship.

11. The Petitioners do most heartily bemoan, that His Majesties Service and Profit are much more impaired than advanced by the Grievances aforesaid; and the Subsidies granted in the last Parliament, having much encreased His Majesties Revenue by the buying of Grants, and otherwise: And that all His Majesties Debts then due in this Kingdom, were satisfied out of the said Subsidies; and yet His Majesty is of late (as the Petitioners have been informed in the House of Commons) become indebted in this Kingdom in great Sums. And they do therefore humbly beseech, That an exact Account may be sent to His Majesty, how and in what manner His Treasure is issued.

12. The Petitioners do humbly conceive just and great fears, at a Proclamation published in this Kingdom, in Anno Domini 1635. prohibiting men of Quality or Estates to depart this Kingdom into England, without the Lord-Deputies License, whereby the Subjects of this Kingdom are hindred and interrupted from free access, to address to His Sacred Majesty, and Privy-Council of England, to declare their just Grievances, or to obtain Remedies for them in such sort, as their Ancestors have done in all Ages since the Reign of King Henry the Second, and great Fees exacted for every of the said Licenses.

13. That of late His Majesties Attorney-General hath exhibited Informations against many ancient Burroughs of this Kingdom, into His Majesties Court of Exchequer, to shew cause by what Warrant the said Burgesses (who heretofore sent Burgesses to Parliament) should send the Burgesses to the Parliament, and thereupon, for want of an Answer, the said Priviledges of sending Burgesses was seized by the said Court, which Proceedings were altogether Coram non Judice, and contrary to the Laws and Priviledges of the House of Parliament, (and if way should be given thereunto) would tend to the Subversion of Parliaments, and by Consequence to the Ruine and Destruction of the Common Wealth.

And that the House of Commons hath hitherto, in this present Parliament, been deprived of the Advice and Counsel of many profitable and good Members by means thereof.

14. By the Powerfulness of some Ministers of State in this Kingdom, the Parliament in its Members, and Actions, hath not its natural Freedom.

15. And lastly, That the Gentry and Merchants, and other His Majesties Subjects of this Kingdom, are of late by the Grievances and Pressures before said, and other the like, brought very near to Ruine and Destruction: And the Farmers of Customs, Customers, Waiters, Searchers, Clerks of Unwarrantable Proceedings, Pursevants, and Goalers, and sundry others, very much enriched, whereby, and by the flow Redress of the Petitioners Grievances, His Majesties most Faithful and Dutiful People of this Kingdom do conceive great fears, that their readiness approved upon all occasions, hath not been of late rightly represented to His Sacred Majesty: For remedy whereof, the said Petitioners do humbly, and of right, beseech your Lordships, That the said Grievances and Pressures may be speedily Redressed; and if your Lordship shall not think fit to afford present Relief, that your Lordship might admit a Select Committee of this House, of Persons uninteressed in the benefit arising of the aforesaid Grievances, to be Licensed by your Lordship, to repair to His Sacred Majesty in England, for to pursue the same, and to obtain fitting remedy for their aforesaid and other just Grievances and Oppressions; and upon all just and honourable Occasions, they will, without respect of particular Interest or Profit to be raised thereby, most humbly and readily in Parliament extend their utmost endeavour to serve His Majesty, and comply with His Royal and Princely Occasions, and shall pray, &c.

Monday, Novemb. 30th, 1640.

A Committee to meet a Committee of the House of Lords about the Examination of Witnesses, in the Case of the E. of Strafford.

  • Sir Thomas Roe,
  • Mr. Pym,
  • Mr. Strode,
  • Mr. St. Johns,
  • Mr. Grimston,
  • Lord Digby,
  • Sir John Clotworthy,
  • Sir Walter Earle,
  • Mr. Hampden,
  • Mr. Maynard,
  • Mr. Hyde,
  • Mr. Whistler,
  • Mr. Palmer,
  • Mr. Glyn,
  • Mr. Solicitor,
  • Mr. Selden,
  • My Lord Durngarvan;
  • Sir Francis Seymor,
  • Sir Hugh Cholmely,
  • Lord Wenman,
  • Sir Jo. Evelyn,
  • Sir Benjamin Rudyard
  • Sir James Thynn,
  • Sir John Culpepper,
  • Sir John Strangwaies,
  • Sir Symon D'Ewes,
  • Mr. George Vane,
  • Lord Cramborne,
  • Lord Compton,
  • Mr. Bellassis,
  • Mr. Kirton,
  • Sir Thomas Hutchison,
  • Sir William Bowyer,
  • Sir James Smith,
  • Sir Arthur Ingram,
  • Lord Russell,
  • Lord Ruthin,
  • Mr. Comisby,
  • Mr. Noel,
  • Sir Thomas Bowyer,
  • Mr. Cecill,
  • Lord Fairfax,
  • Sir Thomas Widdrington,
  • Sir Peter Hayman,
  • Sir John Holland,
  • Mr. James Fynes,
  • Sir Robert Crane,
  • Sir John Corbet,
  • Mr. Jo. Alford,
  • Sir Roger North,
  • Sir Edmond Mountford,
  • Mr. Whitlocke,
  • Mr. Mountagus,
  • Lord Faulkland,
  • Sir Peter Stapleton,
  • Sir Henry Mildmay,
  • Lord Herbert,
  • Sir Richard Wynn,
  • Sir Edward Rodney,
  • Sir Ralph Hopton.

This Committee is to meet with the Committee of 30 of the Lords, concerning a Message sent hither on Friday last from their Lordships, touching a Message sent formerly from this House to them by Mr. Pym, for the Examination of their Members, in the Accusation of the Earl of Strafford, and touching a free Conference upon the last Point of that Message, that some of the Members of this House should be present of that Message, that some of the Members of this House should be present at the Examination of Witnesses, to be propounded by this House, to be examined in the Accusation of the Earl of Strafford.

Petition from the Parliament in Ireland read.

The Petition of several of the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of the Commons House of Parliament in Ireland, whose Names are underwritten, directed to the whole House of Commons in England read.

The Humble Petition of the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the Commons House of Parliament in Ireland, whose Names are underwritten, To the King's most Excellent Majesty read.

The two Gentlemen, Mr. Jo. Bellewe and Mr. Oliver Castle, who brought over those Petitions were called in, and demanded by Mr. Speaker several Questions.

These Gentlemen were again called in, and Mr. Speaker told them:

This House has taken into Consideration your Petition, and in due time you shall know the Pleasure of this House.

Sir Geo. Ratcliff not to speak with, or write to the E.of Strafford.

Ordered, That the Lieutenant of the Tower be required from this House, that he do not suffer Sir George Ratcliff to speak with the Earl of Strafford, a Prisoner there, until further Order be given from this House, nor suffer any Message or Letter to be sent from Sir George Ratcliff unto him; or if any such be, to give Notice of it to this House, sir George Ratcliff being already sent for, by Order of this House, upon an Information of High Treason.

A Troop of Reformado Officers in the Army to be disbanded.

Resolved upon the Question, That the Earl of Craford's Troop, and those other Officers in the Army, that go under the Name of Reformadoes are unnecessary Charge, and fit to be spared; and that my Lord General be moved by Message from this House thereunto.

Resolved, That those Companies, or other Officers, that shall be thus Casheer'd by the Lord General, shall be paid to the Eighth of December next.

Tuesday, December 1. 1640.

A Message from the Lords by Baron Trevor and Judge Bartley.

A Message for a Conference for some of the Members to be present at the Examination of Witnesses.

The Lords have sent Us to this House, to desire a present Conference in the Painted Chamber, with the same Committee that was concerning the matter of the free Conference Yesterday.

Answer returned by the same Messengers.

This House has taken into Consideration the Message of the Lords, and they return this Answer, that they will give a meeting presently, as is desired.

Mr. Pym Reports from the conference this day, That the Lords Committee, with whom we had a free Conference Yesterday, took the Matter into Consideration, and their Resolution is:

Mr. Pym's Report.

That such Members of the House of Commons, as they shall make choice of, shall be present from time to time at the preparatory Examinations concerning the Earl of Strafford.

The Lord Keeper expected we should say something. We told them, We had no Warrant; for a Conference was desired concerning the matter of free Conference, and that a free Conference was not desired; the Question they would have been satisfied in, was, Whether we did intend to have the Examinations taken publick in the House, or by a private Committee? I answered, We had no Commission for a free Conference.

The same Committee that were appointed to draw up the Charge against the Earl of Strafford, are to be present at the Preparatory Examinations of Witnesses before the Lords, to present such Questions unto the Lords as they shall think fit thereupon; and after a full Examination, to present the whole state of the business to this House.

A Message by the Commons.

A Message to be sent to the Lords, to acquaint them that the House is ready, by some Members of this House, to present divers Witnesses to be examined, and such Questions as they shall desire that those Witnesses so propounded by them may be all examined one after another, with speed and secresy.

Sir Geo. Ratcliff to come in by a day.

Thursday morning is peremptorily appointed for Sir George Ratcliff to appear here, and if he come not then, a Message is to be sent to the Lords, to desire them to move his Majesty for a Proclamation to be ordered against him, to bring him in.

Power is given to the Committee that is to be present at the preparatory Examination of Witnesses before the Lords, to summon such Witnesses to be examined tomorrow as they shall think fit.

Mr. Maynard's Report from the Conference Yesterday.

A Report of the Conference for the Lords Members to be examined.

The Lords said, They had taken the Message into Consideration sent by Mr. Pynn, some things were Resolved, others not, and for that purpose desired a free Conference; whereas we did desire to examine some Members of this House, they were ready to examine them when we should require. They answered, That the Peers of their House, when that shall be desired, and all the Assistants of that House, when they shall be there unto required, shall be examined upon Oath; and next for the time and secresy, They said they should be speedily examined, and Examinations secretly kept.

Thursday, December 3. 1640.

Another Message concerning Members to be present at the Examination.

A Message brought from the Lords by my Lord Chief Justice Littleton and Judge Bartley, That according to a desire of this House, by a late Message, they have deputed certain of their Members to take the Examination of Witnesses in the Case of the Earl of Strafford, which they will be ready to perform in the presence of such Members of this House, as shall be deputed to that purpose.

Ordered, that the Earl of Kildares Petition, presented to the Grand Committee for Irish Affairs, be referred to the Sub-Committee for those Affairs.

Friday, December 4. 1640.

Ordered, That those Members of this House, that be appointed to be present at the preparatory Examinations before the Lords, be required to declare that by their Duty they owe to this House, they are obliged to keep all those Examinations secret.

A Protestation of Secresy.

Those Eight appointed for that Service did make all of them Protestations to that purpose.

Ordered, That those Eight, or any Four of them, may be present at the preparatory Examinations before the Lords.

  • Mr. Selden,
  • Mr. Dutton,
  • Mr. Crew,
  • Sir Peter Hayman,
  • Sir Harbottle Grimstone,
  • Sir Henry Anderson,
  • Sir Nevil Poole,
  • Sir Thomas Barrington.


The Petition of Richard Heaton and Lyonell Farrington were read, and Farrington called in, did avow his Petition; the Petitions are referred to the Committee appointed to draw up the Charge against the Earl of Strafford to make use of it, if they shall see Cause.

December 26th, 1640.

Ordered, That the Committee appointed to draw up the Charge against the Earl of Strafford, shall have Power to examine Witnesses concerning sir George Ratcliff, and to prepare a Charge against him, and to present it to this House.

Tuesday, December 29th. 1640.

The Articles against Sir George Ratcliff Read.

Resolved upon the Question, That this House shall Accuse Sir George Ratcliff Knight, of High Treason, in the Name of all the Commons of England.

That these Articles thus Read, shall be the Ground of this Accusation.

Articles against Sir Geo. Ratcliff.

That a Message be sent forthwith to the Lords, to Accuse Sir George Ratcliff Knight, of High Treason, in the Name of this House, and of all the Commons of England, and that very speedily they will bring Articles against him.

Resolved upon the Question, That the Atricles prepared by the Committee against Sir George Ratcliff, and Read here, shall be engrossed against tomorrow, to be sent to the Lords, as a Charge against him.

A Message.

A Message sent from the Lords by the Master of the Rolls and Judge Reeves.

The Lords have Commanded Us to say to You, That whereas there came a Message from this House, to Accuse Sir George Ratcliff of High Treason; They would know, Whether they should presently take care to make safe his person.

Answer returned by the same Messengers:

That this House has taken their Lordships Message into Consideration, and will forthwith return them Answer by Messengers of their own.


Mr. Pym went up to the Lords to acquaint them that this day the House of Commons gave no Instructions to their former Messengers, concerning the Committing of Sir George Ratcliff, because his Person is already in safe Custody in the Gate-house, and they intended to have acquainted their Lordships with it, when they had produced the Articles against him, which would have been very shortly, but since they are prevented by their Lordships, they refer what to do in it to their Lordships.

Mr. Pym brings Answer from the Lords of his Message, that concerning the safe Custody of Sir George Ratcliff, they had sent for him, and had taken Order in it, and touching the receiving of the Examinations in this Cause, there should be the same course observed in them as was in the Earl of Strafford.

Thursday, December 31. 1640.

The Articles against Sir George Ratcliff, by former Order ingrossed, were twice Read; And then it was Resolved upon the Question, That these Articles thus ingrossed and read, shall be sent up to the Lords by the Commons Assembled in Parliament, in maintenance of their Accusation of Sir George Ratcliff, whereby he standeth Charged of High Treason; And it is Ordered, That Mr. Pym go up with these Articles.

Resolved upon the Question, That a Message be sent forthwith to the Lords, to desire a Conference of both Houses, concerning Articles exhibited in maintenance of the Charge against Sir George Ratcliff.

Sir John Strangways went up with this Message.

It was moved, That the House would think of some Answer to the Lords, concerning the Charges against the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Earl of Strafford, delivered from the Scottish Commissioners, at a Conference by a Committee of both Houses.