The Diary of Thomas Burton: 23 March 1656-7

Pages 390-393

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

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Monday, March 23, 1656–7.

The House resumed the debate upon the Remonstrance.

Resolved, that forty-one Commissioners be appointed by Act of Parliament; who, or any fifteen, or more of them, shall be authorized to examine, and try, whether the members, to be elected for the House of Commons, in future Parliaments, be capable to sit, according to the qualifications mentioned in this Remonstrance; and, in case they find them not qualified accordingly, then to suspend them from sitting, until the House of Commons shall, upon hearing of their particular cases, admit them to sit. Which Commissioners are to stand so authorized for that end, until the House of Commons, in any future Parliament, shall nominate a like number of other Commissioners in their places; and those other Commissioners to have the same powers and authorities.

That the said Commissioners shall certify, in writing, to the House of Commons, on the first day of their meeting, the causes and grounds, of their suspensions of any persons so to be elected, as aforesaid.

Resolved, that these Commissioners shall have power to examine, touching Popery and delinquency.

Resolved, that they shall have power to examine, whether the persons elected are of the age of twenty-one years.

Resolved, that they shall have power to examine touching those persons who are disabled by the Act of 17 Caroli, intituled "An Act for disannulling all persons in Holy Orders, to exercise any temporal jurisdiction, or authority, as public ministers, or public preachers of the gospel." (fn. 1)

Resolved, that they shall have power to examine touching such as are guilty of any of the offences mentioned in an Act of Parliament, bearing date the 9th of August, 1650, intituled, "An Act against several atheistical, blasphemous, and execrable opinions derogatory to the glory of God, and destructive to human society, now held and propagated in this nation." (fn. 2)

Resolved, that they shall have power to examine touching such as are common scoffers, or revilers of religion, or of any person or persons for professing thereof.

Resolved, that they shall have power to examine touching such as have married, or shall marry a wife of the Popish religion; or bath trained, or shall train up, his child or children under his tuition or government, in the Popish religion; or that shall permit or suffer such child or children, to be trained up in the said religion; or that hath given or shall give his consent that his son or daughter shall marry any of that religion.

Resolved, that they shall have power to examine touching such, as shall deny the Scriptures to be the word of God; or the Sacraments, prayer, magistracy, and ministry to be the Ordinances of God; such as are common profaners of the Lord's day, or profane swearers, or cursers, or drunkards, or common haunters of taverns or alehouses.

Resolved, that the accusation shall be upon the oath of the informer, or of some other person.

Resolved, that a copy of the accusation shall be left by the party accusing, in writing under his hand, with the party accused; or, in his absence, at his house in the county, city, or town for which he shall be chosen, if he have any such house; or, if not, with the sheriff of the county, if he be chosen for a county; or with the chief magistrate of the city or borough, for which he is chosen.

The Lord Commissioner Lisle reported a clause to be inserted in the Remonstrance.

Resolved, that none may be suffered or permitted, by opprobrious words or writing, maliciously or contemptuously to revile or reproach the Confession of Faith, to be agreed upon by his Highness.


  • 1. To this act, which passed Feb. 14, 1641–2, and which deprived the bishops of their seats in Parliament, the King gave his assent, as it was said, on the persuasion of the Queen. It is remarkable that the legislative power of the prelacy was warmly and ably opposed, by the celebrated Lord Falkland. See "Speeches and Passages of the great and happy Parliament," (1641) pp. 188–197; Brit. Biog. v. 30–32.
  • 2. See Parl. Hist. xix. 323–326. Milton has praised "that prudent and well deliberated Act (Aug. 9, 1650) where the Parliament define blasphemy against God, as far as it is a crime belonging to civil judicature, pleniùs ac meliùs, Chrysippo et Crantore, in plain English, more warily, more judiciously, more orthodoxally than twice their number of divines have done in many a prolix volume." See "A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes." (1659). p. 17. None of the reputed heresies among professing Christians are denounced in this Act; nor are the penalties, though severe, and little to be justified by correct notions, as to the design and limitations of Civil Power, so sanguinary as had been not unfrequent, on an imputation of blasphemy. "For the first offence, six months imprisonment—for the second, to be banished, and for returning, without licence, to suffer death."