The second parliament of Charles II: Seventh session- begins 18/9/1666

Pages 92-100

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section

The Seventh Session of the second Parliament.

September 21, the Parliament, after several Prorogations, and a long Recess of ten Months and three Weeks, met again at Westminster, where his Majesty from the Throne thus declared himself to both Houses:

The King's Speech to both Houses.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

'I Am very glad to meet so many of you together again, and God be thanked for our meeting together in this Place; little time hath pass'd since we were almost in despair of having this place left to meet in. You see the dismal Ruins the Fire hath made; and nothing but a Miracle of God's Mercy could have preserved what is left from the same Destruction.

'I need make no Excuse for dispensing with your Attendance in April; I am conscious you all thank'd me for it: The truth is, I desire to put you to as little trouble as I can; and I can tell you truly, I desire to put you to as little Cost as I can possibly. I wish with all my heart that I cou'd bear the whole Charge of this War myself, and that my Subjects shou'd reap the Benefit of it to themselves. But you have two very great and powerful Enemies, who use all the means they can, fair and foul, to make all the World concur with them; and the War is more chargeable by that Conjunction, than any body thought it wou'd have been. I need not tell you the Success of this Summer, in which God hath given us great Success; and no question but the Enemy hath undergone great Losses; and if it had pleased God to have with-held his last Judgment by Fire, we had been in no ill Condition. You have given me very large Supplies for carrying on the War: And I must tell you, if I had not, by anticipating my Revenue, rais'd a very great Sum of Money, I had not been able to have set out the Fleet this last Spring; and I have some Hope upon the same Credit to be able to pay off the great Ships as they come in. You will consider what is to be done next, when you are well inform'd of the Expence; and I must leave it to your Wisdoms to find out the best Expedients for the carrying on this War with as little Burden to the People as is possible. I shall add no more, but, that our Enemies are very insolent; and if they were able this last Year to persuade this miserable People, whom they so mis-led, That the Contagion had so wasted the Nation, and impoverished us, that we could not be able to set out any Fleet, how will they be exalted with this last Impoverishment of this City, and contemn all reasonable Conditions of Peace? And therefore I cannot doubt but you will provide accordingly.'

The Commons Resolves,

Immediately upon this Speech the Commons unanimously resolved, 'That the humble and hearty Thanks of this House be returned to his Majesty for his great Care in the management of the present War, and that this House will supply his Majesty proportionably to his present Occasions; and that the Lords Concurrence be desired to this Vote.' Soon after which, to make good their Promise, they voted a royal Aid of one Million and eight hundred thousand Pounds for carrying on the present War. And on the 25th of September, in the Afternoon, both Houses of Parliament, being agreed, attended his Majesty in a Body at the Banquetting-House in Whitehall, 'To manifest their hearty Concurrence in the Vote for supplying his Majesty with whatsoever was necessary for the carrying on of the War.' On the 1st of October following, the Commons resolved and voted, 'That the Thanks of this House be given to his Majesty for his great Care and Endeavour to prevent the burning of the City of London.'

The King's Message to the Commons.

Soon after the House began to be employ'd in enquiring into some Miscarriages and Misdemeanors, and design'd particularly to impeach the Lord Viscount Mordant, Constable of the Castle of Windsor. Which Proceedings were thought too dilatory, and not so agreeable with the Exigencies of the Court. Therefore the King, on the 15th of December, sent a particular Message in Writing by Mr. Secretary Morrice to the Speaker, in these Words: 'His Majesty is sorry that the difficulty his House of Commons hath met with, hath detain'd them so long without perfecting his Supply. His Majesty cou'd wish, that the posture of his Affairs would permit the giving of his two Houses a short Recess at Christmas: But the Season of the Year being consider'd, and how much the necessary Preparations against the Spring depend upon the Dispatch of the Supply, he assures himself is preparing for him, he cannot think it consistent with his Service, and the public Safety, to permit any Adjournment, except for the Chief Festival Days, until that, and the other most Public Bills, be dispatch'd, which he desires may be hastned; and which his Majesty should be glad, if possible might be finish'd by Christmas, as well for their Ease, as for his own Service.' Notwithstanding this, the Commons, tho' highly respectful to his Majesty, proceeded their own way, and took their proper time for finishing the Supply.

1666–7. ; Articles of Impeachment against the Lord Mordant.

After a short Recess in Christmas, the Parliament met again on the second of January; and the House of Commons proceeded to Business with Vigour; but still resolv'd upon the Impeachment of the Lord Mordant, and accordingly drew up Articles of High Crimes and Misdemeanors with the usual Formality, the substance of which uncommon Accusation was as follows: '1. That the said Lord Mordant, being Constable of the Castle of Windsor, and Commander of the Garrison there, understanding that one William Taleur Esq; a loyal Person in Office in the said Castle, and possess'd of certain Lodgings there appertaining to his Offices, did intend to stand for one of the Burgesses of Windsor to serve in this present Parliament that met in 1661; some Weeks before the Election, to disparage and prevent the said William Taleur, and to strike a Terror into those of the Borough, by colour of a Warrant from his Majesty, on the 17th of March, did by Soldiers forcibly eject the said William Taleur, together with his big-belly'd Wife, Family and Goods out of the said Lodgings and Castle; the rude Carriage of which Soldiers frighted a young Child out of its Wits, whereof it died soon after. 2. On the 23d of the said Month, the said Lord Mordant did command William Taleur to be forcibly seiz'd upon by his Soldiers in the Prison of the Borough, out of the Precincts of the Castle, where he was a Prisoner for Debt, carry'd him out of the Prison to the Castle, without any Warrant, and detain'd him Prisoner eleven Hours in a cold, low Room, notwithstanding the Offer of two Thousand Pound Bail. 3. That the said Lord Mordant, during the Time of Mr. Taleur's Imprisonment, being told that he was the King's Servant, and had the great Seal for his Place as well as he, in high Contempt of the King's Authority, reply'd, He wou'd dispose of his Places, and break the great Seal, and justify it when he had done. 4. That the said Lord Mordant, in March 1664, by Letters and otherwise made sundry uncivil Addresses to a Daughter of Mr. Taleur's; which she rejecting, and threatning to acquaint his Lady with them, he swore a most dreadful Oath and Imprecation, he wou'd prosecute Her and her Family to all Eternity. 5. That on the 23d of November 1665, Mr Taleur was by the Lord Mordant's Command forcibly dispossess'd of certain Rooms in the Timber Yard belonging to the Castle, without the Walls, belonging to his Office of Paymaster and Surveyor of the Castle. 6. That a Warrant surreptitiously obtain'd from his Majesty, dated November 30th, 1665, but not produced till some Months after, for restraining Mr. Taleur from going out of the Castle, was directed to the said Lord Mordant; who, without mentioning the King's Warrant, caus'd him again forcibly to be apprehended in the Borough of Windsor, and carry'd to the Castle, where he was detain'd Prisoner twenty Weeks, five of which in close Durance, contrary to the King's Warrant, which only restrain'd him to the Castle. 7. That, during this Imprisonment, the said Lord refused to obey a Habeas Corpus brought by Mr. Taleur; and when he was serv'd with another, he gave the Messenger reproachful Language, calling him Rogue for delivering the said Writ, and saying, That was all the Answer he would give to it. 8. That Mr. Taleur, when he was enlarg'd by an Order from the King's Bench, fearing he should be again illegally imprison'd, did thereupon make application to his Lordship by Friends for a Reconciliation; who answer'd, He would never be reconcil'd to him, and threaten'd to imprison him again; and if he brought another Habeas. Corpus, he would imprison him again and again, and keep him Prisoner as long as he liv'd, and likewise turn him out of all his Offices. By reason of which Menaces, Mr. Taleur was forc'd to desert his Wife, Family and Employments at Windsor, and to absent himself till this present Session of Parliament. For all which high Crimes and Misdemeanors, the Commons of England demanded Justice, condign Punishment, &c.'

The Lords and Commons disagree.

Soon after this Impeachment, a Difference ensued between the Lords and Commons, concerning a Poll-Bill, and the taking the public Accounts; the first of whom were for doing it by Commission from the King, and not by Bill, as was proposed by the Commons. The consequence of which was, that the House in some heat resolved, 'That this Proceeding of the Lords in going by Petition to the King for a Commission for taking the public Accounts, while there was a Bill sent up by this House, and depending before them, for taking the Accounts another way, is unparliamentary, and of dangerous consequence.' Within two or three Days they likewise declared, 'That, according to the right and settled Course of Parliament upon Bills, neither a Bill, nor any Part thereof is to be communicated to his Majesty by either House, until the whole be agreed unto by both Houses.' As to the PollBill, the Lords in a free Conference insisted, among other things, upon adding some Names to the Commissioners. To which the Commons disagreed; but without the least assuring their peculiar Rights as to Money Bills: They only gave this molest Reason for their Non compliance, 'That it hath been observ'd, that in all Arts of Subsidies and of Poll-Money, the greater the Number of Commissioners, the less Money hath been rais'd; for many Commissioners incumber one another, and rather procure the Ease of themselves, and their many Friends, than the Advance of the King's Service, and the public Benefit.'

The King passes some Bills, with a Speech.

During these Divisions between the Houses, the King, understanding the Poll-Bill, and some others, to have got through both, on the 18th of January came to the House of Peers, and pass'd that and the rest, with the following gracious Speech:

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

I Have now pass'd your Bills, and was in hopes to have had other Bills to pass too: I cannot forget that, within a few days after your coming together in September, both Houses presented me with their Vote and Declaration, That they would give me a Supply proportionable to my Occasions. And the Confidence of this made me anticipate that small Part of my Revenue, which was unanticipated, for the Payment of the Seamen; and my Credit hath gone further than I had reason to think it would, but it is now at an end. This is the first day I have heard of any Supply, being the 18th of January; and what this will amount to, God knows; and what time I have to make such Preparations as are necessary to meet three such Enemies as I have, you can well enough judge. And I must tell you what Discourscs are abroad; I am not in any Treaty; but by the Grace of God I will not give over my self and you, but will do what is in my power for the Defence of my self and you. It is high time for you to make good your Promise, and it is high time for you to be in the Country, as well for raising of Money, as that the Lord-Lieutenants and Deputy-Lieutenants may watch the seditious Spirits which are at work to disturb the public Peace: And therefore I am resolved to put an end to this Session on Monday next come Seven-night; before which time I pray let all things be made ready that I am to dispatch. I am not willing to complain that you have dealt unkindly with me in a Bill I have now pass'd, in which you have manifested a greater Distrust of me than I have deserv'd. I do not pretend to be without Infirmities, but I have never broken my word with you; and, if I do not flatter my self, the Nation had never less cause to complain of Grievances, or the least Injustice or Oppression, than it hath had in these seven Years it hath pleas'd God to restore me to you: I would be glad to be used accordingly.

Notwithstanding this intimidating Speech, the Commons proceeded with the Affairs before them; especially the Impeachment of. Lord Mordant, which had likewise given his Majesty some offence.

Further Disputes between the Lords and Commons.

Serjeant Maynard, Sir Robert Atkins, and Mr. William Prynne, &c. were appointed to manage the Evidence at the Hearing: And on the 26th of January, read the Articles before the House of Lords; but with Dissatisfaction observ'd, that, during the reading of them, the Lord Mordant was within the Bar of the House. Of this the Commons complain'd, and mov'd, 'That, according to former Precedents in such Proceedings, his Lordship might stand without the Bar of the House. And when one appeared as Council for him, beginning to plead in this Matter, they thought fit to interrupt him, acquainting the Peers, 'That his Lordship ought not to have any Council assign'd him to plead for him in matter of fact upon the Impeachment. This caus'd a Conference, and indeed a Difference between the two Houses: The Lords insisted upon their Rights and Privileges, and on the 4th of February confirm'd their Order for the Lord Mordant's sitting within the Bar at his Trial, produc'd two Precedents for it, and declared themselves ready for the Trial the next Morning. The Commons upon this were still more dissatisfy'd, and desir'd a free Conference; in which matters were carry'd so high, that the Lords declared, 'That they desired this Conference to preserve a right Understanding between both Houses; but insisted upon it, that they might deny a free Conference with the Commons, citing a Precedent, 12th Jacobi, where a free Conference was deny'd the Commons in point of one Imposition; and that in point of Judicature (which the Lords insisted on to be only in the King and themselves) they might deny the Commons a free Conference.

The Speaker's Speech to the King at the Prorogation.

But all these Disputes were ended on the Eighth of February, by the Appearance of the King in the House of Peers, who sent for the Commons in order to a Prorogation. Their Speaker Sir Edward Turner, having several Bills ready, presented them with this following Speech to his Majesty, which is the last we find that he made upon the like occasion: 'May it please your most excellent Majesty, Nothing conduceth more to the Happiness of a Nation, than a right Understanding between the Prince and the People: And nothing more advanceth this Correspondence, than frequent Meetings in Common Council. By the Wisdom of our Fore fathers, the Security of our Lives, our Liberties, and our Properties, is lodg'd in our English Parliaments; and so gracious have your Majesty's Predecessors been, That, for the Satisfaction of their People, they have made several Laws, some for Triennial, some for Annual Parliaments. Your Majesty by their Example, upon the humble Suit of your Lords and Commons, hath in a former Session of this Parliament pass'd an Act for Triennial Meetings in Parliament: But in this your Majesty hath exceeded all your Predecessors, That as your happy Restoration was in a Convention of Parliament, so of your own accord, for the Public Good, and as a Demonstration of your extraordinary Love to Parliaments, you have vouchsased ever since your Return to converse with your People in Parliament; this being the fixth Year and sixth Session [seventh Meeting] of this present Parliament. The last time your Majesty was pleased to speak to us, you commanded us to make ready all things that you were to dispatch this Session: In obedience thereunto, we have with all Industry imaginable endeavour'd so to prepare those Matters that were before us, that your Majesty and the whole Nation may receive satisfaction in our Dispatches. First it concern'd us to keep our words with your Majesty, in finishing that Supply, which we promised you for the carrying on the War. In order whereunto, I do here present unto your Majesty this Bill of Eleven Months Assessments upon our Lands, to take place in a Post-Charge after the Additional Royal Aid now current is expired. This Act, together with the Poll-Bill lately passed, we conceive will fully make good the Million Eight Hundred Thousand Pounds we promised to your Majesty.

'We must for ever with Humility acknowledge the Justice of God in punishing this whole Nation by the late dreadful Conflagration of London: We know they were not the greatest Sinners on whom the Tower of Siloam fell; and doubtless all our Sins did contribute to the filling up that Measure, which being full, drew down the Wrath of God upon that City: But it very much reviveth us to behold the miraculous Blessing of God upon your Majesty's Endeavours for the Preservation of that Part of the City which is left: Et fas est resurgere Mænia Trojæ! We hope God will direct your Royal Heart and fortunate Island in a few days to lay a Foundation-stone in the Re-building that Royal City; the Beauty and Praise whereof shall fill the whole Earth. For the Encouragement of this noble Work we have prepared several Bills: One, for establishing a Judicatory for the speedy determining all Actions and Causes of Action, that have or may arise between Landlords, and Tenants upon this sad Accident. Though I persuade myself no Englishman would be exempted from making some Offering to carry on this pious Undertaking; yet the exemplary Charity of your twelve reverend Judges is fit with honour to be mention'd before your Majesty: They are willing to spend all their Sand that doth not run out in your Majesty's immediate Service of dispensing Justice in their several Courts to your People, in Hearing and Determining those Controversies that may arise upon old Agreements, and making new Rules between Owners and Tenants, for their mutual Encouragement in this glorious Action. We have likewise prepared a Bill for the regularity of the new Buildings, that they may be raised with more Conveniency, Beauty, and Security, than they had before: Some Streets we have order'd to be open'd and enlarg'd, and many Obstructions to be remov'd; but all with your Majesty's Approbation. This we conceive cannot be done with Justice, unless a Compensation be given to those that shall be Losers; we have therefore laid an Imposition of twelve Pence upon every Chaldron, and twelve Pence upon every Tun of Coals that shall be brought into the Port of London for ten Years, the better to enable the Lord-Mayor and Aldermen to recompense those Persons whose Grounds shall be taken from them.

Rome was not built in a day: Nor can we, in the Close of this Session, finish the Rules for the dividing of Parishes, rebuilding of the Churches, and the ornamental Parts of the City that we intended; these things must rest till another Session: But we know your Majesty in the mean time will take them into your Princely Consideration, and make it your Care, That the Houses of God, and your Royal Chamber, be decently and conveniently restored. And now, Great Sir, having thus happily finish'd the Business of this Session, we beg your Majesty's Leave that we may return to our own Houses, there to put in execution the good Laws which you have made, and to defend our several Countries against all Designs to disturb the Peace of the Nation. And we beseech Almighty God, who hath hitherto wonderfully preserv'd your Majesty's Person, and made you glorious in all your Atchievements, still to prosper your Forces both at Sea, and Land, till he hath made your Majesty an Asylum for all your Friends, and a Terror to your Enemies both at home and abroad.'

Upon passing the Bills mention'd in this Speech, and some few others of less moment, his Majesty made the following Speech:

The King's Speech to the Houses at the same time.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

I Thank you for this other Bill of Supply which you have given me, and I assure you the Money shall be laid out for the Ends it is given: I hope we shall live to have Bills of this nature in the old Stile, with fewer Provisoes. I look'd to have somewhat offer'd to me concerning the Accounts of the Money that hath been already rais'd since the War: Which, since you have not done, I will take care (after so much Noise) that the same be not stifled, but will issue out my Commission in the Manner I formerly promis'd the House of Peers; and the Commissioners shall have very much to answer, if they do not discover all Matters of Fraud and Cozenage. The Season of the Year is very far spent, in which our Enemies have got great Advantages over us; but, by the Grace of God, I will make all the Preparations I can, and as fast as I can: And yet I must tell you, That, if any good Overtures be made for an honourable Peace, I will not reject them; and I believe all sober Men will be glad to see it brought to pass.

I shall now prorogue you till towards Winter, that you may, in your several Places, attend the Peace and Security of your several Countries, where there are unquiet Spirits enough working: And I do pray you, and I do expect it from you, That you will use your utmost Endeavours to remove all those false Imaginations in the Hearts of the People (which the Malice of ill Men hath industriously infus'd into them) of I know not what Jealousies and Grievances. For I must tell you again, and I am sure I am in the right) That the People had (never so little Cause to complain of Oppression and Grievances, as they have had since my Return to you. If the Taxes and Impositions are heavy upon them, you will put them in mind, That a War with such powerful Enemies cannot be maintain'd without Taxes: And I am sure the Moneys rais'd thereby come not into my Purse. I shall add no more; but I promise myself all good Effects from your Affections and Wisdoms where-ever you are; and I hope we shall meet again of one Mind, for my Honour, and the Good of the Kingdom. And now, my Lord Privy-Seal, do as I have directed you.' Accordingly the Lord Roberts declar'd the King's Pleasure for proroguing the Parliament to the 10th Day of October; which put an end to the Seventh Session, or rather Meeting, of the Second and Long Parliament, after a Continuance of four Months and about two Weeks.