The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 6, 1714-1727. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES AND DEBATES IN THE First Session of the Second Parliament OF King George I.
Being the Sixth Parliament of Great Britain.
The Parliament meet.; Mr Spencer Compton re-elected Speaker.
On the 9th of October, the Parliament being met at Westminster, pursuant to a Proclamation for that Purpose, the King came to the House of Peers, with the usual State, and the Commons being sent for up and attending, his Majesty's Pleasure was signify'd to them by the Lord Chancellor, that they should return to their House and chuse a Speaker, and present him to his Majesty the Thursday following. The Commons being return'd accordingly, Mr Pulteney (fn. 1), Member for Heydon, made a Motion for chusing Mr Spencer Compton (fn. 2), Knight of the Shire for Sussex, their Speaker, as a Person of known Abilities, and consummate Experience, and in all Respects qualify'd for so arduous and important an Employment, which he had already discharg'd with universal Applause, in the last Parliament. This Motion was immediately seconded, and being supported by a great many Voices, he was chosen Speaker, without Opposition.
October 11. The King being come again to the House of Peers, the Commons presented their Speaker to his Majesty, who, by the Mouth of the Lord Chancellor, signify'd his Approbation of their Choice. Then the Lord Chancellor read his Majesty's Speech to both Houses, as follows.
The King's Speech at opening the first Session of his Second Parliament, wherein his Majesty takes Notice of Layer's Plot.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I Am concerned to find my self oblig'd, at the opening of this Parliament, to acquaint you, that a dangerous Conspiracy has been for some Time form'd, and is still carrying on, against my Person and Government, in Favour of a Popish Pretender.
"The Discoveries I have made here, the Informations I have receiv'd from my Ministers abroad, and the Intelligences I have had from the Powers in Alliance with me, and indeed from most Parts of Europe, have given me most ample and concurrent Proofs of this wicked Design.
"The Conspirators have, by their Emissaries, made the strongest Instances for Assistance from Foreign Powers, but were disappointed in their Expectations: However, considing in their Numbers, and not discourag'd by their former ill Success, they resolv'd once more, upon their own Strength, to attempt the Subversion of my Government.
"To this End, they provided considerable Sums of Money, engag'd great Numbers of Officers from abroad, secur'd large Quantities of Arms and Ammunition, and thought themselves in such Readiness, that had not the Conspiracy been timely discover'd, we should, without Doubt, before now, have seen the whole Nation, and particularly the City of London, involv'd in Blood and Confusion.
"The Care I have taken has, by the Blessing of God, hitherto prevented the Execution of their traiterous Projects: The Troops have been encamp'd all this Summer: Six Regiments, though very necessary for the Security of Ireland have been brought over from that Kingdom: The States-General have given me Assurances, that they would keep a considerable Body of Forces in a Readiness to embark on the first Notice of their being wanted here, which was all I desir'd of them, being determin'd not to put my People to any more Expence than what was absolutely necessary for their Peace and Security.
"Some of the Conspirators have been taken up, and secur'd; and Endeavours are us'd for apprehending others.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"Having thus in general laid before you the State of the present Conspiracy, I must leave to your Consideration what is proper and necessary to be done for the Quiet and Safety of the Kingdom. I cannot but believe the Hopes and Expectations of our Enemies are very ill grounded, in flattering themselves, that the late Discontents, occasion'd by private Losses and Misfortunes, however industriously and maliciously somented, are turned into Disaffection, and a Spirit of Rebellion.
"Had I, since my Accession to the Throne, ever attempted any Innovation in our establish'd Religion; had I, in any one Instance, invaded the Liberty or Property of my Subjects, I should less wonder at any Endeavours to alienate the Affections of my People, and draw them into Measures that can end in nothing but their own Destruction.
"But to hope to persuade a free People, in full Enjoyment of all that is dear and valuable to them, to exchange Freedom for Slavery, the Protestant Religion for Popery, and to sacrifice at once the Price of so much Blood and Treasure, as have been spent in Defence of our present Establishment, seems an Infatuation not to be accounted for. But however vain and unsuccessful these desperate Projects may prove in the End, they have at present so far the desired Effect, as to create Uneasiness and Diffidence in the Minds of my People; which our Enemies labour to improve to their own Advantage. By forming Plots they depreciate all Property that is vested in the publick Funds, and then complain of the low State of Credit: They make an Increase of the National Expences necessary, and then clamour at the Burthen of Taxes, and endeavour to impute to my Government, as Grievances, the Mischiefs and Calamities which they alone create and occasion.
"I wish for nothing more, than to see the publick Expences lessen'd, and the great National Debt put in a Method of being gradually reduc'd and discharg'd, with a strict Regard to Parliamentary Faith; and a more favourable Opportunity could never have been hoped for, than the State of profound Peace, which we now enjoy with all our Neighbours. But publick Credit will always languish under daily Alarms and Apprehensions of publick Danger: And as the Enemies of our Peace have been able to bring this immediate Mischief upon us, nothing can prevent them from continuing to subject the Nation to new and constant Difficulties and Distresses, but the Wisdom, Zeal, and vigorous Resolutions of this Parliament.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I have order'd the Accounts to be made up, and laid before you, of the extraordinary Charge that has been incurred this Summer, for the Defence and Safety of the Kingdom; and I have been particularly careful, not to direct any Expence to be made greater or sooner than was of absolute Necessity.
"I have likewise order'd Estimates to be prepar'd and laid before you, for the Service of the Year ensuing; and I hope the farther Provisions, which the treasonable Practices of our Enemies have made necessary for our common Safety, may be order'd with such Frugality, as very little to exceed the Supplies of the last Year.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I need not tell you of what infinite Concern it is to the Peace and Tranquility of the Kingdom, that this Parliament should, upon this Occasion, exert themselves with a more than ordinary Zeal and Vigour. An intire Union among all that sincerely wish well to the present Establishment, is now become absolutely necessary. Our Enemies have too long taken Advantage from your Differences and Dissentions. Let it be known, that the Spirit of Popery, which breathes nothing but Confusion to the civil and religious Rights of a Protestant Church and Kingdom, however abandon'd some few may be, in despite of all Obligations divine and human, has not so far possessed my People, as to make them ripe for such a fatal Change. Let the World see, that the general Disposition of the Nation is no Invitation to Foreign Powers to invade us, nor Encouragement to Domestick Enemies to kindle a Civil War in the Bowels of my Kingdom. Your own Interest and Welfare call upon you to defend yourselves. I shall wholly rely upon the Divine Protection, the Support of my Parliament, and the Affections of my People, which I shall endeavour to preserve, by steadily adhering to the Constitution in Church and State, and continuing to make the Laws of the Realm the Rule and Measure of all my Actions."
Mr Hutcheson moves, that the Committee of Privileges and Elections be a Select Committee of 36, and is back'd by Mr Jefferies.
October 15. The House began to enter upon Business, appointed and order'd the Sitting of the Grand Committees for Religion, Grievances, Courts of Justice, Trade, and Privileges and Elections; and made the usual standing Orders and Regulations. When they came to the Committee of Privileges and Elections, Mr Hutcheson, Member for Hastings, mov'd, That it should consist of 36, or such other Number of Select Members as the House should think fit, who should be empower'd to hear, try, and determine the Merits of Elections; and that no other Members but such as were chosen by the House, might have Votes in the said Committee. He was seconded by Mr Jefferies, Member for Droitwich, who shew'd, that this had been the constant Usage and Practice both before and after Queen Elizabeth's Time, and that it had never been otherwise, till the long Parliament in 1641, when all Things were in Confusion; but nevertheless Mr Hutcheson's Motion was dropt.
Mr W. Pulteney moves for an Address of Thanks to the King for his Speech.; Debate thereon.
Mr Speaker having afterwards reported the King's Speech to both Houses, Mr William Pulteney stood up, and represented the dismal Consequences of the Plot, if it had pleas'd the Divine Providence that it had not been timely discover'd; and mov'd for an Address of Thanks, on the several Heads of his Majesty's Speech, particularly to congratulate his Majesty on the timely Discovery of the dangerous and unnatural Conspiracy against his Majesty's Person and Government; to express the just Detestation and Abhorrence his faithful Commons had of all such traiterous Practices, and their Indignation and Resentment against the Authors and Contrivers of them. This was seconded by Mr Doddington, Member for Bridgwater; but Mr Shippen, Member for Newton, mov'd, that to the Paragraph, Assuring his Majesty, that his faithful Commons would enable him effectually to suppress all remaining Spirit of Rebellion, these Words might be added, with due Regard to the Liberty of the Subject, the Constitution in Church and State, and the Laws now in Force. He was seconded by Sir William Wyndham, Member for Somersetshire; but Mr Pulteney reply'd, 'That such a Clause would be injurious to the King, since it would look like making a Condition or Bargain with his Majesty, and tacitly imply, either that the Laws had already been infring'd, or that the Commons were jealous left his Majesty should, for the future, break in upon the Constitution: Therefore, instead of the said Clause, he propos'd, that at the latter End of the Address, they should return his Majesty their Thanks for his most gracious Declaration, that he would preserve the Constitution in Church and State, and continue to make the Laws of the Realm the Rule and Measure of all his Actions.' This was seconded by Mr Yonge, Member for Honiton: And then the Question being put, which of the Two Clauses should be made Part of the Address, it was carry'd for Mr Pulteney's Clause, without any Division. After this, a Committee was appointed to draw up the said Address.
A Bill from the Lords for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act for one Year.; Debate thereon.
Mr Justice Tracy and Mr Baron Price having brought from the Lords, a Bill, To impower his Majesty to secure and detain such Persons as his Majesty shall suspect are conspiring against his Person and Government: The same, upon Mr R. Walpole's Motion, was immediately read the first Time, and ordered to be read a second Time the next Morning.
Oct. 16. The said Bill was read a second Time, and a Motion being made, and the Question put thereupon, That it be committed to a Committee of the whole House, the same was oppos'd by Mr Cæsar, Member for Hertford, who represented the dangerous Consequences of a Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, to the Rights and Liberties of English men. He was seconded by Mr Hungerford, Member for Scarbrough; but Mr Bromley, Member for the University of Oxford, said thereupon, 'That the chief Objection against this Bill being in Point of Time, and whether the Suspension was to continue six or twelve Months, it was more proper to debate it in a Committee than in a House, and therefore he was for committing it;' which, after some small Opposition, was carry'd without dividing. The House being immediately resolv'd into that Committee, and the Earl of Hertford (fn. 3), Member for Northumberland, placed in the Chair, Mr Spencer Cowper (fn. 4), Member for Truro, stood up, and open'd the Debate. He declar'd, 'That he and all his Family had come as early and as readily into the Revolution, and on all Occasions had appear'd as zealous for the present happy Settlement as any one: But yet he could not be of Opinion, to trust the Liberties of the People in the Hands of any Ministry, for so long a Time as above a Year. That neither in King William's nor Queen Anne's Reigns, nor since his present Majesty's Accession to the Throne, even in Times of open and actual Rebellion, the Habeas Corpus Act had ever been suspended for above Six Months; and therefore he mov'd, that the present Suspension might be limited to that Term.' He was seconded by Mr Smith (fn. 5), Member for Eastlow, and Sir Joseph Jekyll (fn. 6), Member for Ryegate, who added, 'That if, at the End of those six Months, there appeared to be a Necessity for a farther Suspension, he should, and he doubted not but the whole House would, readily come into it.' They were answered by Sir Robert Raymond (fn. 7), Member for Helston, who, to shew the Necessity of the Suspension for a whole Year, said, 'That the present Conspiracy being laid deep, spreading far and wide, and consisting of several Branches, it requir'd a great deal of Time to unravel, and make a full Discovery of it.' Mr Worsley, Member for Newton [Hants] having answer'd him, he was reply'd to by Sir Wilfred Lawson, Member for Cockermouth; after which the Debate was continued between Mr Hungerford, Mr Jefferies, Mr Hutcheson, and Mr Sloper, Member for Camelford, who all supported Mr Cowper's Motion; and Mr Pulteney, Mr Yonge, and Mr H. Pelham, Knight of the Shire for Suffex, who were for agreeing to the Bill without Amendments. At last Mr Robert Walpole (fn. 8), Member for Lynn, laid before the House some Particulars of the detestable and dangerous Conspiracy, which for some Time past had been, and was still carrying on, for the utter Subversion of the present happy Settlement. He said, 'That this wicked Design was form'd about Christmas last; that the Conspirators had at first made Application to some Potentates abroad, for an Assistance of 5000 Men: That being deny'd, they afterwards, about the Month of April, made farther Application and earnest Instances for 3000 Men: That being again disappointed in their Expectations from Foreign Assistance, they resolved desperately to go on, considing in their own Strength, and fondly depending on the Disaffection in England; and that their first Attempt was to have been the seizing of the Bank, the Exchequer, and such other Places where the publick Money was lodg'd: That the Government had undoubted Informations of this Plot ever since May last; but nevertheless thought fit not to take up any Body, because there being then two Terms coming on together, the Conspirators would have had the Benefit of the Habeas Corpus Act, and so the Apprehending them was put off 'till the long Vacation.' He added, 'That the traiterous Designs against his Majesty's Person and Government had been carrying on ever since the Death of the late Queen; and that they could prove that there had been a Meeting of some considerable Persons, one of whom was not far off, wherein it had been proposed to proclaim the Pretender at the Royal Exchange. That an exact Account of this detestable Conspiracy would, in due Time, be laid before the Parliament: And as to the Business now before them, tho' it was true, that the Habeas Corpus Act had never before been suspended for above six Months; yet, considering the Lords had made this Suspension for a whole Year, if the Commons should go about to alter it, the same might occasion a Difference between the two Houses, which, at this Time of Jealousy and Danger, might sound ill in Foreign Courts.
The Bill for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act passes the House;
After this Speech, about seven in the Evening the Question being put, that the Bill do pass as it was sent down from the Lords, it was carry'd in the Affirmative, by a Majority of 246 Voices against 193. Then the Speaker resum'd the Chair, and the Earl of Hertford having immediately reported the said Bill to the House without any Amendment; It was read the third Time, and pass'd without dividing.
And has the Royal Assent
Oct. 17. The King came to the House of Peers with the usual Solemnity, and the Commons attending, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent to the said Bill.
The same Day the House presented their Address to the King, as follows:
The Commons Address.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, beg Leave to return our humble Thanks to your Majesty, for your most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'It is with Hearts full of Joy we approach your sacred Person, to congratulate your Majesty, that, by the Blessing of God, the Designs of your Enemies have hitherto been happily frustrated and disappointed.
'We cannot sufficiently acknowledge your Majesty's Care and Vigilance, and the wise and prudent Measures you have taken for our Safety, in ordering the Encampment of the Troops, and sending for such others from Ireland, as were thought farther necessary for the Peace and Quiet of this Kingdom. And it is the greatest Satisfaction to us, to see the Readiness of your Majesty's good Friends and Allies, the States General, to assist you with a good Body of Forces, if there had been Occasion.
'But among all the Steps taken for the Safety of your Majesty and the Kingdom, none can possibly equal that of the speedy calling your loyal Commons together in Parliament; who are met determin'd with the utmost Unanimity and Zeal, to do every Thing in their Power for the Preservation of your Majesty's most sacred Person: Nor can less be expected from the Gratitude and Affection of a free People, sensible that thro' the whole Course of your Reign, no Innovation has been attempted in our holy Religion, nor the least Incroachment made upon the Liberty or Property of any of your Subjects, and that the full Enjoyment of all that is dear and valuable to them, is entirely owing to your Majesty's Government.
'Tho' the Enemies of our happy Establishment should have Malice and Boldness enough, still to be carrying on their traiterous Designs, yet we are persuaded, that all Uneasiness and Apprehensions will vanish, when your faithful Commons assure your Majesty, that they will enable you effectually to suppress all remaining Spirit of Rebellion.
'If neither the sacred Obligation of the most solemn Oaths, nor the certain Misery they must bring upon their Country, who would attempt to overturn this Government, can deter them from such desperate Undertakings: If there be any of your Majesty's Subjects, who are so abandon'd, as to be ready to exchange the Protestant Religion for Popery, and Liberty for Slavery; yet we hope the vigorous Resolutions of a loyal and dutiful Parliament will convince them of the Danger as well as Folly of such an Attempt; and shew the whole World, that the Generality and best Part of your People are so far from giving any Invitation to foreign Powers to invade us, that they will, with their Lives and Fortunes, support your Majesty against all your Enemies at Home and Abroad.
'We cannot therefore express too great an Abhorrence of such unnatural Practices, nor too great an Indignation against those who would have made the Capital of this flourishing Kingdom a Scene of Blood and Desolation. Wicked Men! whilst they have the Malice to revile your Government, and attempt to overturn it, at the same Time have the Insolence to depend upon the Clemency of it for their Security: While they are endeavouring to destroy all Liberty, they are clamouring that a few of them are, for the publick Safety, confin'd: Whilst they are attempting to destroy all Property, they are murmuring at the necessary Taxes given to your Majesty for the Security of it: And whilst they act against all Law themselves, they trust and are consident that, even in their own Case, the Laws of the Realm will be the Rule and Measure of your Actions.
'We beg Leave to acknowledge, with great Gratitude, your Majesty's Goodness, in assuring us, that notwithstanding the traiterous Practices of your Enemies have made the Increase of the annual Expence necessary, yet Care will be taken, that the Supplies to be asked for the Year ensuing, shall very little exceed what was given for the Service of the last.
'And we assure your Majesty, that we will not only make good the extraordinary Expences that have been already incurr'd, but will, with all Cheerfulness, grant whatever shall be necessary for the Safety of the Kingdom; being entirely convinc'd, that we can by no other Means restore publick Credit, and enable ourselves to attempt the gradual Reduction of the great National Debt, with a strict Regard to Parliamentary Faith, than by doing every Thing in our Power for the Support of your Majesty's Government, and the happy Establishment in your Royal Family.
'And we do with all Humility return your Majesty our unfeigned Thanks for your most gracious Declaration, on which we entirely rely, that your Majesty will steadily adhere to our Constitution in Church and State, and continue to make the Laws of the Realm the Rule and Measure of your Actions.
To the above Address the King return'd the following Answer.
The King's Answer to the Commons Address of Thanks.
"I Return you my hearty Thanks for this very dutiful and loyal Address. The seasonable Declarations of your Zeal and Affection to my Person and Government, will, I doubt not, contribute very much to the Tranquility and Safety of the Kingdom; and as I shall always look upon my own and the Interest of my People to be inseparable, you may be assur'd I shall make no Use of any Power or Confidence that my faithful Commons shall place in me, but in Support of the Constitution, and in Maintenance of the Rights and Liberties of my People.
A Supply voted.
Oct. 19. A Motion being made for a Supply to be granted to his Majesty, the same was referred to the Grand Committee.
Oct. 23. The said Resolution being reported, was unanimously agreed to.
Mr Treby moves for an Augmentation of 4000 Men for the Army.; Debate thereon.
Oct. 26. The Commons in a Grand Committee consider'd farther of the Supply, and Mr Treby having represented the Necessity, at this Time of Danger from the traiterous Designs and Conspiracies that were still carrying on by the Enemies of the Government, to increase the present Standing Forces, and thereupon mov'd for an Augmentation of about 4000 Men, the same occasion'd a very long and warm Debate. The chief Opponents to the Motion were, Mr Shippen, Lord Morpeth, Member for Morpeth; Mr Palmer, Member for Bridgwater; Mr Bromley, Mr Barnard, Member for London; Mr Crowley, Member for Okehampton; Sir Thomas Hanmer, Member for Suffolk; and Mr Hutcheson: But they were answer'd by Mr Sandys, Member for Worcester; Captain Vernon, Member for Penryn; Mr Eversfield, Member for Horsham; Mr H. Pelham, Mr Doddington, Lord Stanhope (fn. 9), Member for Lestwithiel; Mr West, Member for Bodmin; Mr Smith, Mr R. Walpole, Lord Middleton, Member for Midhurst; and Mr Pulteney; Then the Question being put upon Mr Treby's Motion, it was carry'd in the Affirmative, by 236 Voices against 164. After this, it was resolv'd, without dividing, That the Number of effective Men for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, Jersey, and Guernsey, for the Year 1723, including 1859 Invalids, be 18,294 Men, Commission and NonCommission Officers included. Which Resolution, being the next Day reported, was agreed to by the House.
Mr R. Walpole, in his Motion for the Land-Tax, hints a Design of laying an extraordinary Tax on Papists and Nonjurors.
Oct. 31. The Commons in a Grand Committee, consider'd of Ways and Means to raise the Supply, and upon Mr R. Walpole's Motion, it was unanimously agreed to lay two Shillings in the Pound upon all Lands, Tenements, Pensions, Offices, &c. Mr Walpole, on that Occasion, acquainted the House, 'That he hoped that Tax, together with the Duty on Malt, and the Million in Exchequer Bills which the South-Sea Company were to repay to the Government, would go near to answer all the necessary Expences for the next Year's Service; and to make up what might be deficient, he hinted the laying an extraordinary Tax of five Shillings in the Pound on the Estates of all RomanCatholicks and Nonjurors; which could not be thought either unjust or unreasonable, considering the ill Use they made of the Saving out of their Incomes, which most of them laid out in maintaining the Pretender and his Adherents abroad, and fomenting Sedition and Rebellion at home.'
The Lords desire a Conference with the Commons, and communicate to them the King's Message relating to the Pretender's Declaration; and their Resolutions thereupon.; Names of the Managers, viz.;
November 16. The Lords sent a Message to desire a Conference with the Commons, which being agreed to, the Managers for the Commons, who were Mr R. Walpole, Mr Edgecombe, Member for Plympton; Mr Methuen, Member for Brackley; Mr H. Pelham, Mr Hutcheson, Mr Yonge, Mr Bromley, and Colonel Bladen, Member for Stockbridge, being return'd to their House, Mr Pelham reported the Conference, and that it was to communicate to the House a Message sent to the Lords by his Majesty, under his Sign Manual, concerning an original Declaration in Writing sign'd by the Pretender himself; together with the said Declaration and a Printed Copy thereof; and that the Lords desir'd the Concurrence of the House to the following Resolutions of their Lordships thereupon, viz. 'Resolved by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled; I. That the Printed Copy of the Pretender's Declaration, mention'd in his Majesty's Message, be burnt by the Hands of the common Hangman, at the Royal Exchange in London, upon Tuesday next, at One of the Clock; II. That the Sheriffs of London do cause the same to be burnt there accordingly.'
To which the Commons agree, with an Amendment. ; Mr Yonge's Sir W. Thompson's, Mr H. Pelham's, and Mr Onslow's Observations on the Pretender's Declaration. ; An Address voted on this Occasion.
Then the said Report, and also the said Message from his Majesty to the House of Lords, and the Declaration sign'd by the Pretender, and the Printed Copy thereof, and the Resolutions of the Lords thereupon were read. Hereupon Mr Sandys mov'd for agreeing with the Lords in the first Resolution, and being seconded by Colonel Bladen, the same was unanimously agreed to. Then the second Resolution being read a second Time, Mr Yonge mov'd for an Amendment to it, viz. That the two Sheriffs of London should then attend in their own proper Persons, and cause the said Declaration to be burnt by the Hands of the common Hangman; which Resolution so amended, was agreed to Nem. Con. On this Occasion, Mr Yonge run over the Pretender's Declaration, and expos'd the Insolence, Weakness, and Absurdities of that Libel. Sir William Thompson (fn. 10), Member for Ipswich, spoke also with great Vehemence on the same Topick, as did also Mr H. Pelham, who mov'd, That an Address be presented to his Majesty upon that Subject. He was seconded by Mr Arthur Onslow, Member for Guildford, who represented the Danger of Popery, and animadverted on the Audaciousness of the Pretender and his Adherents: Hereupon, it was resolv'd Nem. Con. That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, expressing their utmost Astonishment and Indignation at the surprizing Insolence of the Pretender, in his late traiterous and presumptuous Declaration; and to assure his Majesty, that his faithful Subjects being fully satisfy'd they have no other Security for their Religious and Civil Rights, but the Preservation of his Person and Government and the Protestant Succession, are determin'd to support, with their Lives and Fortunes, his most just Title to the Crown of these Realms, against the Pretender and all his open and secret Abettors. And a Committee was appointed to draw up an Address, pursuant to the said Resolution.
Nov. 17. Mr Pelham reported the said Address, which being unanimously agreed to, the Managers of the Commons were sent to desire their Lordships Concurrence both to the Amendment to one of their Resolutions beforemention'd, and to the Address the Commons had agreed upon. The Lords having readily concurr'd, both Houses went immediately to the Palace at St James's, and presented to his Majesty the said Address as follows.
The Joint Address of both Houses to the King, relating to the Pretender's Declaration.
Most gracious Sovereign,
'WE your Majesty's most dutiful and faithful Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in Parliament assembled, being deeply affected with the Sense of those many Blessings which we have constantly enjoy'd, and hope long to enjoy, under your Majesty's most just and gracious Government; and being throughly convinc'd that our Religious and Civil Rights, as well as the very Being of the British Name and Constitution, do, under God, entirely depend upon the Preservation of your Majesty's Sacred Person, and of the Protestant Succession, as settled by Law, in your Royal Line, are fill'd with the utmost Astonishment and Indignation at the unexampled Presumption and Arrogance of the Pretender to your Domiminions, in daring to offer such an Indignity to your Majesty and the British Nation, as to declare to your Subjects, and to all foreign Princes and States, that he finds himself in a Condition to offer Terms to your Majesty, and even to capitulate with you for the absolute Surrender of the Religion and Liberties of a free Nation.
'However great the Infatuation of his Advisers may be, we are sensible nothing could have rais'd his or their Hopes to so extravagant a Degree of Presumption, but repeated Encouragements and Assurances from the Conspirators at Home, founded on the most injurious and gross Misrepresentations of the Inclinations and Affections of your Majesty's Subjects; and a rash Conclusion, that because some, from whom it ought least to have been expected, had broke through the solemn Restraint of reiterated Oaths, in order to raise themselves on the Ruins of their Country; therefore the whole Body of the Nation was ripe for the same fatal Defection, and ready to exchange the mild and legal Government of a most indulgent Prince, for the boundless Rage of an attainted Fugitive, bred up in the Maxims of Tyranny and Supersution.
'But we, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, resolve, by a steady and constant Adherence to your Government, to wipe off this Stain and Imputation from the Name of Britons; and to convince the World, that those wicked Designs form'd against your Majesty's Sacred Person and Government, which the Insolence of this Declaration proves to be most real while it affects to treat them as imaginary, are indeed impracticable against a Prince relying on and supported by the Vigour and Duty of a British Parliament and the Affections of his People.
'And we beg Leave in the most solemn Manner, to assure your Majesty, that neither the impotent Menace of foreign Assistance, nor the utmost Efforts of Domestick Traitors shall ever deter us from standing by your Majesty with our Lives and Fortunes, and supporting your Majesty's most just Title to the Crown of these Realms, against the Pretender and all his open and secret Abettors, both at Home and Abroad.'
To which his Majesty return'd the following Answer.
His Majesty's Answer thereto. ; Motion in the Grand Committee, for raising 100,000£. on the Papists, towards the Supply of the current Year. ; Debate thereon. ; The said Motion agreed to;
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I Give you many Thanks for the just Resentment you have express'd against the Indignity offer'd to me and the British Nation.
"I shall continue to protect and support my good People in the full Enjoyment of their Religion, Liberties and Properties, against all that shall endeavour to subject them to Tyranny and Superstition."
Nov. 23. In a Grand Committee, the Commons consider'd on Ways and Means to raise the Supply, and a Motion was made, That towards raising the Supply, and reimbursing to the Publick the great Expences occasion'd by the late Rebellions and Disorders, the Sum of One Hundred Thousand Pounds be rais'd and levy'd upon the real and personal Estates of all Papists, Popish Recusants, or Persons educated in the Popish Religion, or whose Parents are Papists, or who shall profess the Popish Religion, in lieu of all Forfeitures already incurr'd for, or upon account of their Recusancy, and in lieu of the Rents and Profits of two Thirds of their register'd Estates for one Year. This Motion was oppos'd by Sir Wilfred Lawson, and Mr Hungerford, who suggested, 'That such an extraordinary Tax would carry the Face of Persecution, which was inconsistent with the Principles and Temper of the Protestant Religion;' Dr Friend, Member for Launceston, added, 'That some of those that had their Education in foreign Popish Seminaries, prov'd some of the best Friends to the present Government.' To this Mr Yonge answer'd, 'That he knew very little of foreign Education, but he doubted very much whether Loyalty to King George was taught by Priests and Jesuits in Romish Seminaries.' The Lord Gage, Member for Tewksbury, [who was bred a Roman Catholick] hereupon said, 'That he believ'd most of the Roman Catholicks to be very loyal Subjects, tho' by their Principles they cannot take the Oath of Supremacy; and therefore his Lordship propos'd that a new Oath of Allegiance might be fram'd for them; Mr Onslow spoke on the same Side, and declar'd his Abhorrence of persecuting any Body, on Account of their Opinions in Religion.' This was answer'd by Sir William Thompson, who stated the Notion, in his Opinion, of Persecution, which was only when any one is punish'd for his particular Opinion in Religion, and for serving God according to that Opinion and the Dictates of Conscience: But added, 'That was not the Case here, for the extraordinary Tax now intended to be rais'd upon the Papists, was not a Punishment for their being RomanCatholicks, but on Account of Penalties they had at divers Times incurr'd, for being Enemies to the Civil Government, raising Rebellions, and contriving Plots against the State.' He was replied to by Lord Gage, who was answer'd by Mr Horatio Walpole, and he again by Mr Hungerford. At last Mr R. Walpole stood up, and represented the great Dangers this Nation had been in, ever since the Reformation, from the constant Endeavours of Papists to subvert our happy Constitution and the Protestant Religion, by the most cruel, violent, and unjustifiable Methods; that he would not take upon him to charge any particular Person among them with being concern'd in the present horrid Conspiracy: But that 'twas notorious to the whole World, that many of them had been engag'd in the Preston Rebellion, and some were executed for it; and the present Plot was contriv'd at Rome, and countenanc'd in Popish Countries; that many of the Papists were not only Well-Wishers to it, but had contributed large Sums of Money towards carrying of it on; and therefore he thought it very reasonable, since they made such ill Use of the Savings of the Incomes of their Estates, that the same should go towards the great Expence which they and the Pretender's Friends had put the Nation to.' Then the Question being put upon the Motion above, it was carried in the Affirmative by 217 Votes, against 168.
And reported to the House; upon which ensues a Second Debate. ; A Bill order'd to be brought in, in Pursuance of the above Motion.
Nov. 26. The above Resolution was reported, and the Question being put, That the House agree with the Committee, It was very vigorously oppos'd by Lord Gage, Mr Lutwyche, Mr Hungerford, Mr Sloper, and Sir Joseph Jekyll, which last took Notice, 'That tho' the Law for taking away two Thirds of the Estates of Popish Recusants, which was made in Queen Elizabeth's Reign, was a just Punishment the Roman-Catholicks drew upon themselves by their frequent Conspiracies against her Life and Government; yet nevertheless, such was the Wisdom and Moderation of that excellent Princess and of her Ministers, that they never put that severe Law in Execution; and since those great Virtues shone no less brightly in his present Majesty, than in Queen Elizabeth, his Royal Predecessor, he wish'd he could say the same of those who have the Honour to serve him.' Mr West spoke likewise against the Resolution, but was answer'd by Mr Lowndes (fn. 11), Member for Eastlow, Captain Vernon (fn. 12), Member for Penryn, and Mr R. Walpole, so that the Question being put thereupon, it was carried by 188 Votes against 172; and a Bill was order'd to be brought in accordingly.
Petition from the S. S. Company, relating to the converting one Moiety of their Capital into Annuities.; Debate thereon.
December 12. A Petition of the South-Sea Company was presented to the House by Sir John Eyles (fn. 13), Member for Chippenham, and read, setting forth, That they labour'd under an insupportable Burden, from which they pray'd to be reliev'd by this House; and that they were content to convert Part of their Capital into Annuities, redeemable by Parliament, transferable at, and payable by, the said Company. Hereupon Mr R. Walpole inform'd the House, That his Majesty had been acquainted with the Substance of the said Petition, and had commanded him to acquaint this House; That his Majesty gave his Consent that this House should proceed to the Consideration of the said Petition, upon Condition that the said Company should convert one Moiety of their Capital into Annuities. Then some Clauses in the Act of Parliament of the Seventh Year of his Majesty's Reign, intitled, an Act, For making several Provisions to restore the publick Credit, which suffers by the Frauds and Mismanagement of the late Directors of the South-Sea Company and others, were read, and a Motion being made, that the Petition above-mention'd be referr'd to the Consideration of the Committee of the whole House, who were to consider of the State of Publick Credit and of the State of the National Debt, the said Motion was oppos'd by Mr Sloper, Serjeant Pengelly, Member for Cockermouth; Mr Hutcheson, Mr Freeman, and Sir Joseph Jekyll; but being answer'd by Sir John Eyles; Mr Methuen, and Mr Robert Walpole, the said Motion was carry'd, without dividing. Then the House went into the said Committee, and a Motion being made for remitting the two Millions due from the South-Sea Company to the Government, and for converting into Annuities one Moiety of their Capital Stock: This was strenuously oppos'd by Mr Sloper, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Thomas Broderick, Member for Guildford; Sir Nathanael Gould, Member for Shoreham; Mr Trenchard, Member for Taunton; Sir Wilfrid Lawson, and Lord Tyrconnel, Member for Lincoln; who were answer'd by Mr Hungerford, Sir John Eyles, Mr Yonge, Mr Horatio Walpole, Mr Robert Walpole, and Mr William Pulteney. After a Debate that lasted till Seven in the Evening, the Question being put upon the said Motion, the same was carried in the Affirmative by 210 Voices against 147.
A Committee appointed to examine Christopher Layer;; Their Names;; An Address resolv'd on, for several Papers relating thereto;
January 15. Upon a Motion made by Sir John Rushout, Member for Evesham, it was resolved, Nem. Con. That a Committee be appointed to examine Christopher Layer, in Relation to the Conspiracy mention'd in his Majesty's Speech, at the Opening of this Parliament, to be carrying on against his Person and Government; and order'd, That such Members of the House as were of his Majesty's Privy-Council, be the said Committee, viz. The Hon. Mr. Spencer Compton, Speaker; Mr Robert Walpole, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Methuen, Mr William Pulteney, Mr John Smith, Mr Hampden, Lieutenant-General Wills, and Sir Robert Sutton. After this, upon another Motion made by Mr Robert Walpole, it was also resolv'd, to address his Majesty, for the several Examinations and Papers relating to Christopher Layer.
Which are presented, and, after some Debate between Mr Shippen, Mr Jefferies, and Mr Pulteney, are referr'd to the said Committee.
Jan. 16. Mr R. Walpole, pursuant to the Address of the House to his Majesty, presented to the House several original Papers relating to Mr Layer; and having deliver'd them in at the Table seal'd up, Mr Shippen moved, That the Packet be open'd, and the Papers read. He was seconded by Mr Jefferies; but Mr Pulteney having represented, 'That as those Papers were to be a Guide to the Committee appointed to examine Mr Layer, it was improper to make them publick before the said Examination was over; it was thereupon order'd, I. That the said Papers be referr'd to that Committee. II. That the said Committee meet and sit at such Time and Place as they thought fit. III. That Three be the Quorum of the said Committee.
Debate on a Bill, For preventing Frauds and Abuses in the Tobacco Trade.
February 8. The House went into a Grand Committee, to prepare Heads of a Bill, For preventing Frauds and Abuses in the Tobacco Trade, &c. and consider'd of the Duties and Allowances upon Tobacco, and what Abatements or Regulations might be made therein. Hereupon Mr Trenchard mov'd, 'That in order to prevent for the future the Frauds and Abuses committed in the said Trade, there might be a ReEntry of all Tobacco that was remov'd from one Port to another, both in England and Scotland; but that Motion not being seconded, was dropt. Then he took Notice, 'That tho' the Scots were, in many Respects, great Gainers by the Union of the two Kingdoms, yet they were very deficient in paying their Proportion of the publick Burdens; that by the Treaty of Union they were to pay 50,000£. per Annum, towards the Malt-Tax, but that, if he was rightly inform'd, for several Years past, they had not paid above 10,000£. and therefore he mov'd, that it might be an Instruction to the Committee to inquire into that Matter. He was seconded by Mr Hungerford: But it being represented, that such an Inquiry was very improper in the present Juncture, and might inflame the Nation; Sir Nathanael Gould made a Motion, That all Tobacco imported both into England and Scotland be put into Warehouses, and not be remov'd from thence without a Permit, to prove that the Duty was paid: But it growing late, the farther Consideration thereof was adjourn'd. This Affair was, after several unavoidable Delays on Account of so much important Business being depending before the House this Session, put off to the 5th of March.
Feb. 23. Mr Pulteney, from the Committee appointed to examine Christopher Layer and others, acquainted the House, that the Committee had prepar'd a Report to be laid before the House, and desir'd the House would appoint a Day for receiving the same: Whereupon it was order'd, That the said Report be receiv'd upon the 1st Day of March.
Debate on the Amendments made to the Mutiny-Bill by the Lords.
Feb 26. The Bill, For punishing Mutiny and Desertion, &c. being sent back from the House of Peers, an Amendment made by the Lords, for inserting in the Preamble the Number of Forces thought proper to be kept on Foot for the Year 1723, consisting of 16,449, effective Men, Officers included, and 1815 Invalids, was read; and a Motion being made, that the House do agree with the Lords, it occasion'd a very warm Debate, many Members urging, 'That it intrench'd on the proper Prerogative of the Commons to grant Supplies:' But at last the Question being put, whether to agree or not? It was carried in the Affirmative, by 130 Votes against 116.
The Commons consider the Report from the Committee on Layer's Plot.
March 1. Mr W. Pulteney, Chairman of the Committee on Layer's Plot, reported the Matter as it appear'd to them, and read the Report in his Place, and deliver'd the same in at the Table, with several Appendixes.
March 2. The House proceeded to take the above-mention'd Report into Consideration, and after the reading of it by the Clerk, put off the same to the 8th, and order'd in the mean Time, that the Report with the Appendixes be printed. To these therefore we refer our Readers for the Particulars of Layer's Scheme.
A farther Progress made in the Tobacco-Bill.
March 5. The Commons in a Grand Committee, consider'd farther of Heads for a Bill, For preventing Frauds and Abuses in the Tobacco-Trade, &c. and came to several Resolutions, which Mr Sandys having reported the next Day, were agreed to, without Debate, and a Bill order'd to be brought in pursuant to the said Resolutions, which afterwards pass'd into a Law.
Mr W. Pulteney's Motion relating to the above Report.
March 8. The Commons proceeded to take into farther Consideration the Report from the Committee appointed to examine Christopher Layer and others; and Mr William Pulteney mov'd, 'That this Question might be put, viz. That upon Consideration of the Report and the several Papers and Examinations relating to the Conspiracy, it appears to this House, That a detestable and horrid Conspiracy has been form'd and carried on by Persons of Figure and Distinction, and their Agents and Instruments, in Conjunction with Traitors Abroad, for invading these Kingdoms with foreign Forces, for raising Insurrections and a Rebellion at Home, for seizing the Tower and City of London, for laying violent Hands upon the Persons of his most Sacred Majesty and the Prince of Wales; in order to subvert our present happy Establishment in Church and State, by placing a Popish Pretender upon the Throne.'
This Motion was seconded by Sir John Rushout, and Mr Thomas Broderick; but Mr Shippen, and Mr Bromley endeavour'd to extenuate some Matters, which, in their Opinion, were couch'd in too strong Terms, as not being clearly prov'd. They said, 'They did not doubt of the Conspiracy, for they believ'd there had always been one carrying on against the present Settlement, ever since the Revolution: But from what had yet been laid before the House, it did not appear to them that there was such a particular concerted Plot as was mention'd in the Question above-mention'd. Sir Joseph Jekyll said thereupon, with a great deal of Warmth, 'That he could not with Patience, and with his usual Moderation, hear the Truth of this detestable and horrid Conspiracy call'd in Question, after so many undeniable Proofs. But, added he, as there are People who know nothing of the Plot, and yet believe it, so there are others that know the whole Plot, and yet pretend not to believe it.' He was answer'd by Mr Jefferies, who, in particular, excepted against these Words in the Question, viz. For Laying violent Hands upon the Person of his most Sacred Majesty and the Prince of Wales; because it appear'd by the Report, that the Conspirators only meant the Seizing or Assaulting the King's Person, &c. But he was replied to by Mr Horatio Walpole, who said, 'He was amaz'd to hear such Words come out of the Mouth of a Lawyer, and a Member of that House; but since he had forgot his Profession, and the Place he was in so far, as to make so small a Matter of Seizing the King's Person and the Heir Apparent, on whom all that is dear and valuable to Englishmen, both as Men and Christians, entirely depends, he must take the Liberty to tell him, that much less than seizing and assaulting the Person of the King or Prince, is by our Laws look'd upon as an Overt-Act of HighTreason.' Then the Question, as propos'd by Mr Pulteney, was carried without dividing.
Sir Robert Raymond moves the House gainst John Plunket as an Accomplice in Layer's Plot; upon which a Bill of Pains and Penalties is, after some Debate, order'd to be brought in against him. ; Mr Onslow.
After this, Sir Robert Raymond mov'd, That it appears to this House, that John Plunket has been a principal Agent and Instrument in the said horrid and detestable Conspiracy, and has carried on several treasonable Correspondences to procure a foreign Force to invade these Kingdoms, to raise Insurrections and a Rebellion at Home, and was engag'd with others in the villanous and execrable Design of laying violent Hands upon his Majesty's most Sacred Person. This Question being likewise carried without a Division; Sir Robert Raymond mov'd again, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill, To inflict certain Pains and Penalties on John Plunket. He was seconded by Mr Onslow, but tho' the said Motion was warmly oppos'd, yet after some Debate it was carried by a Majority of 289 against 130, that the said Bill be brought in; and then the House adjourn'd 'till the 11th.
Sir Philip Yorke moves the House against George Kelly, as an Accomplice with Layer, and a Bill of Pains and Penalties is thereupon propos'd to be brought in against him. ; Debate thereon. ; The said Bill order'd to be brought in.
March 11. The House resum'd the adjourn'd Consideration of the Report from the Secret Committee, and Sir Philip Yorke (fn. 14) open'd the Debate in a Speech, wherein he particularly enlarged on the Share Mr George Kelly alias Johnson, had in the traiterous and detestable Conspiracy, and then propos'd this Question, viz. That upon Consideration of the Report from the Committee, appointed to examine Christo pher Layer, and others, and the several Papers and Examinations relating to the Conspiracy, it appears to this House, That George Kelly alias Johnson has been a principal Agent and Instrument in the said horrid and detestable Conspiracy, and has carry'd on several treasonable Correspondences to raise Insurrections and a Rebellion at Home, and to procure a foreign Force to invade these Kingdoms from Abroad: This Motion being seconded by Mr Sandys, was carry'd without any Division. Then Sir Philip Yorke mov'd, 'That a Bill be brought in To inflict certain Pains and Penalties upon George Kelly alias Johnson, which was seconded by Mr R. Walpole. Hereupon Mr Trenchard said, 'That he thought the properest Way to proceed against this Criminal, was in the old Parliamentary Method, by Bill of Attainder, there being sufficient Proof to support such a Bill:' But this Motion was not seconded. On the other Hand, Mr Bromley, Mr Shippen and Mr Lutwyche oppos'd Sir Philip Yorke's Motion, but were answer'd by Sir Joseph Jekyll, and Mr Talbot, Member for Durham; and the Question, being put, it was carry'd in the Affirmative by 280 against 111.
Mr Yonge moves the House against Dr Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, as bring concern'd in the Conspiracy against the Government. Debate thereon.; A Bill of Pains and Penalties order'd to be brought in against the Bishop of Rochester.
Then Mr Yonge stood up, and took Notice, how deeply Dr Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, had been concern'd in this detestable Conspiracy; aggravating his Crime from his holy Function and high Station in the Church of England, a Church ever conspicuous for its Loyalty; from the solemn Oaths he had, on so many Occasions, taken to the Government, and by which he had abjur'd the Pretender; when at the same Time he was traiterously conspiring to bring him in, upon the Ruin of his Country and of all that was dear and valuable to us, as Freemen and Christians: Concluding, that as he was a Disgrace to his Order, and Dishonour to the Church, so he might apply to him on this Occasion, these Words of the 1st of Acts, Verse 20. Let his Habitation be desolate, and let no Man dwell therein: And his Bishoprick let another take. And therefore he mov'd, That it appears to this House, 'That Francis Lord Bishop of Rochester was principally concern'd in forming, directing, and carrying on the said wicked and detestable Conspiracy, for invading these Kingdoms with a foreign Force, and for raising Insurrections and a Rebellion at Home, in order to subvert our present happy Establishment in Church and State, by placing a Popish Pretender upon the Throne.' Mr Yonge was seconded by Sir John Cope; but they were answer'd by Sir William Wyndham, who said, 'He saw no Cause to proceed against the Bishop in so severe a Manner, there being little or indeed no Evidence besides Conjectures and Hearsays.' He was back'd by Mr Bromley, Mr Shippen, Mr Hutcheson, Mr Hungerford, Col. Strangeways, Mr Lutwyche, and Dr Friend. They were reply'd to by Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr R. Walpole, Mr Pelham, Mr Talbot, Mr John Smith, and Mr William Pulteney; and a Motion being made, and the Question being put, that the House do now adjourn, it pass'd in the Negative by 285 Voices against 152; after which, the Question being put upon Mr Yonge's Motion, the same was carry'd without dividing. Then a Motion was made, and the Question put, That a Bill be brought in, To inflict certain Pains and Penalties on Francis Lord Bishop of Rochester, which after some Debate, was also carry'd without any Division.
Mr R. Walpole moves for an Address to the King, to order Dr Friend to be committed for High Treason. Debate thereon.
March 13. Mr Robert Walpole acquainted the House, 'That he had receiv'd his Majesty's Commands to acquaint the House, that his Majesty having had just Reason to apprehend Dr John Friend, Member of this House, for HighTreason, had caused him to be apprehended, and desir'd the Consent of the House to his being committed and detain'd for High-Treason, according to an Act of this present Session, intitled an Act, For impowering his Majesty to secure and detain such Persons as his Majesty shall suspect are conspiring against his Person and Government [see p. 288.] Upon which he mov'd, that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would be pleas'd to give Order for committing and detaining Dr John Friend, pursuant to the Act of this Session of Parliament for that Purpose. This Motion was seconded and back'd by several Members: But Mr Shippen and Mr Bromley oppos'd it, saying, 'They could not see any Reason for that House giving Leave for detaining any Member, unless the Species of Treason was declar'd, and that the Information was upon Oath.' Sir Joseph Jekyll and Mr Robert Walpole, reply'd, 'That by the late Act for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, the King was impower'd to take up any Person he had Reason to suspect; that therefore the Government was not oblig'd to say, whether the Information was upon Oath or not; But Mr Walpole added, 'He did not doubt but Dr Friend was charg'd upon Oath; and privately declar'd to several Members, that they had positive Proof of his being guilty of the blackest and basest Treason.' Mr Shippen then suggesting, 'That Dr Friend's having spoke so warmly two Days before, in Mr Kelly's and the Bishop of Rochester's Behalf, was, in his Opinion, the Reason of his being taken up the next Day himself, and that at that Rate, there was an End of the Liberty of Speech which every Member of that House had a Right to:' Mr R. Walpole, with a great deal of Warmth, reply'd, 'He wonder'd any Gentleman could think any Ministry capable of so base a Thing, as to take up any Gentleman for what he said in that House, without any other Cause, when they knew them selves to be accountable as well as others for their Actions:' Adding, 'That they who made such Insinuations might more easily be prov'd to be Jacobites, than they could make out such an Allegation against the Ministry;' Mr Pulteney spoke on the same Side, and in Relation to Dr Friend's speaking in Kelly's Behalf, observ'd, that it was usual in all Conspiracies, for one Traytor to endeavour to excuse another.' Mr Shippen animadverted severely upon this Reflection, saying, 'It was not to be endur'd, to have a Member of that House call'd a Traytor, before he was convicted as such:' But Mr Pulteney having explain'd himself, that Matter ended; and then the Motion for an Address was carried without dividing.
The House resolve to present a congratulatory Address to the King on the Discovery of the Plot.
March 14. The Commons having resum'd the Consideration of the Report from the Committee appointed to examine Christopher Layer and others; it was resolv'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, expressing the Indignation of this House against the horrid and detestable Conspiracy which had been carry'd on against his Majesty's Sacred Person, and to congratulate his Majesty on the happy Discovery of it, and to assure his Majesty, that this House would proceed, with the utmost Vigour, to bring those to Justice who had been concern'd in these unnatural Designs against their Country, and would effectually support his Majesty's Government, and would maintain, with all that is dear and valuable to them, the present happy Establishment.
A Committee was appointed to draw up this last Address, of which Mr Thomas Broderick being chosen Chairman, he reported the said Address to the House on the 18th, which was then agreed to.
A Bill, To inflict Pains and Penalties on John Plunket, and another to the same Purpose against George Kelly, read the first Time.
March 19. Sir Robert Raymond presented to the House a Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties on John Plunket, which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time, on the 28th; it was also order'd, I. That a Copy of the said Bill, and of the said Order, be forthwith sent to the said John Plunket, and deliver'd to him by the Serjeant at Arms. II. That the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General do take Care that the Evidence against the said John Plunket be ready to be produc'd to this House upon Thursday the 28th. III. That the said John Plunket be allow'd Pen, Ink, and Paper. Then Sir Philip Yorke presented also a Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties on George Kelly, alias Johnson, which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second on the 1st of April, and the like three Orders in relation to this Bill, were made as those of the Bill for punishing John Plunket.
March 20. The House presented their congratulatory Address to his Majesty as follows:
An Address of Congratulation to the King on the Discovery of the Plot.
Most gracious Sovereign,
Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, do humbly beg Leave to approach your Royal Person with Hearts full of Concern and Horrour, for the detestable Conspiracy form'd against your Person and Government.
'We lament with Indignation, that any of our FellowSubjects who enjoy, in common with us, the many and signal Blessings of your Majesty's mild and just Administration, should so far give themselves up to Delusion, as to conspire against publick Liberty, against their own Security, and against the only Bulwark of all that is dear and valuable, your Majesty's Person and the Protestant Succession in your Royal Family.
'We see with Astonishment, that Persons of Figure and Distinction, who ought to have been the best Judges, and most zealous Defenders of your beneficent and mild Reign, by which alone their Fortunes and Dignities can be made secure, should be so far infatuated, as to head and abett a monstrous Conspiracy to destroy your Majesty, their Country, and themselves; that Honour, Faith, and the most solemn Ties of Religion, should be violated in Favour of a Popish Fugitive, known only for his blind Bigotry and Attachment to Rome.
'As we have with sensible Sorrow and just Resentment, discover'd these vile Practices, so will we take Care that the wicked Authors may not, by any Contrivance or Practice whatsoever, escape Punishment; but that all Conspirators may, by the Justice of Parliament, be for ever hereafter deterr'd from engaging in such traiterous Attempts.
'We congratulate your Majesty, and all your good Subjects, that you have escap'd the black and unnatural Designs of the worst of Men; and that Almighty God has, by this happy Discovery, given you and your Royal Family a fresh instance of his singular Care and Protection.
'For us, your faithful Commons, who feel with Joy and Gratitude the inestimable Blessings of your Reign; who are sensible of the glorious Advantages of Liberty and of the Protestant Religion; and have in Abhorrence the Miseries and Slavery inseparable from Popery and a Popish Government; we will stand by your Majesty, and effectually support your Government, at the Hazard and Expence of our Lives and Fortunes.
'We will maintain and defend your Majesty's rightful and lawful Title to the Crown of these Realms, and endeavour to transmit to the latest Posterity this happy, free, and ancient Constitution.'
To this Address the King return'd the following Answer:
The King's Answer.
"I Return you my Thanks for this dutiful and loyal Address: It is agreeable to the many Instances of Zeal and Affection to me, which you have upon every Occasion express'd. The just Resentment and Indignation you have shewn against this Conspiracy, will, I doubt not, give entire Satisfaction to all that sincerely wish well to the present Establishment, encourage the Friends to my Government, and deter the Enemies of our common Peace from renewing these rash and desperate Attempts."
The Bill, To inflict Pains and Penalties on the Bishop of Rochester, read the first Time.
March 22. Mr Yonge presented to the House a Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties upon Dr Francis Atterbury, Lord Bishop of Rochester; which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second, on the 4th of April. It was also order'd, I. That a Copy of the said Bill and of the said Order be forthwith sent to the said Lord Bishop of Rochester, and deliver'd to him by the Serjeant at Arms attending this House. II. That Mr Attorney-General and Mr Solicitor-General do take Care that the Evidence against the said Francis Lord Bishop of Rochester, be ready to be produc'd to this House, upon the 4th of April. III. That the said Francis Lord Bishop of Rochester be allow'd Pen, Ink, and Paper.
The same Day, the King came to the House of Lords, and the Commons attending, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent to an Act, For reviving and adding two Millions to the Capital Stock of the South-Sea Company, and for reviving a proportional Part of the Yearly Fund payable at the Exchequer, and for dividing their whole Capital, after such Division made, into two equal Parts or Moieties; and for converting one of the said Moieties into certain Annuities, for the Benefit of the Members, and for settling the remaining Moiety in the said Company, &c. [See p. 296.]
Petition of George Kelly to be heard by his Counsel against the Bill, For inflicting Pains and Penalties upon him; which is granted.
March 23. A Petition of George Kelly, Clerk, Prisoner in the Tower of London, was presented to the House and read, praying that he might be heard by himself and Counsel against the Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties upon him, &c. before the same should pass into a Law; and that this House would assign Sir Constantine Phipps and Serjeant Darnell for his Counsel, and Mr Hugh Watson for his Solicitor; and that they might have free Access to him, to receive his Instructions in private; and that he might have the Summons of this House, for such Witnesses as he should think necessary. The Prayer of this Petition, the last of all excepted, was granted; and an Order thereupon made accordingly.
Petition of the Bp of Rochester to the same Purpose, which is also granted.
March 25. Mr Speaker acquainted the House, That he had that Morning receiv'd a Letter from the Lord Bishop of Rochester, that his Lordship having receiv'd a Copy of a Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties upon him, for suppos'd Crimes of which he was innocent, he hop'd he should be allow'd to have Sir Constantine Phipps, and William Wynne, Esq; for his Counsel, and Mr Joseph Taylor, and Mr William Morrice, for his Solicitors to assist him, in order to the making his Defence; and that they might have free Access to him to receive his Instructions, and give him their Advice in private; which was granted.
A Petition of George Kelly, for delaying the second Reading of the Bill against him, which is rejected.
March 27. A Petition of George Kelly, Clerk, Prisoner in the Tower of London, was presented to the House, and read, praying, that the second Reading of the Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties upon him, might be put off 'till the 8th of April; and that the Depositions upon Oath, of Mr Michael Birmingham, Surgeon, and Messieurs Bask and Borgonio, Merchants, who resided at Paris, to be taken before a publick Notary, or before some or one of the British Residents there, and also the Deposition of Mr Gordon, Banker in Boulogne in France, to be taken upon Oath before the chief Magistrate of the said Town, or a publick Notary there, might be admitted to be read at the Bar of this House, as Evidence for the Petitioner. Mr Hungerford, Sir William Wyndham, Mr Palmer, and Mr Shippen spoke in Behalf of this Petition; but being answer'd by Mr Robert Walpole, Sir Joseph Jekyll, and Sir William Thompson, it was carried without dividing, that the said Petition be rejected.
The Bill against John Plunket read a second Time, and he making no Defence the Bill is committed.
March 28. The Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties upon John Plunket, was, according to Order, read a second Time; and tho' Mr Plunket did not think fit to make any Defence, yet the Commons proceeded, and the Counsel for the Bill produc'd Extracts of several original Letters from Abroad, giving Intelligence of the Conspiracy. And the Counsel having summ'd up the Evidence, and being withdrawn, Mr Speaker open'd the Bill, and the Question being put, That the said Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House, the same was carry'd without dividing.
Debate concerning Plunket's Punishment.
March 29. The Commons went into a grand Committee upon the Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties upon John Plunket. Mr Onslow being plac'd in the Chair, several Letters and other original Papers, prov'd by several Witnesses to be Mr Plunket's Hand-Writing, were read, as was also a Letter from the Pretender, and several other Letters from General Dillon to Plunket; all which clearly evincing, that he had a principal Share in the contriving and carrying on of the Conspiracy; Mr Miller mov'd, that the Pains and Penalties, for which a Blank was left in the Bill, might extend to Death; urging, 'That, in his Opinion, there was sufficient Proof to convict him of High Treason, even in Westminster-Hall. He was seconded by the Lord Viscount Middleton, Sir John Rushout, Mr Clayton, Mr Sandys, Mr Walter Chetwynd, Mr John Chetwynd, Sir Wilfred Lawson, and many others; but they were oppos'd by Mr Robert Walpole, Mr Horatio Walpole, Mr Thomas Broderick, and Sir Joseph Jekyll, who alledg'd, 'That the filling up of the Blank with Death would be a Kind of Deceit put on the Prisoner, because a Bill of Pains and Penalties was generally understood not to reach Life, and that it was to be suppos'd, the Prisoner took it in that Sense, otherwise he would have made some Defence.' The Members who were for Death, seeing the Courtiers of a contrary Opinion, would not divide the House; and then Sir Robert Raymond mov'd, 'That the Pains and Penalties might be Imprisonment in some Part of Great Britain, during the Pleasure of his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors; Forfeiture of his Estate; and that his Attempting to make, or any others favouring, his Escape, be made Felony:' The Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd in the Affirmative by 280 Voices against 91.
April 1. The Commons being acquainted, that Serjeant Darnell had declin'd appearing at the Bar of their House as Counsel for George Kelly, being engag'd in Business at the Assizes in Sussex, it was order'd, That Fettiplace Nott, Esq; be allow'd Counsel for the said George Kelly, instead of Mr Serjeant Darnell.
Debate concerning George Kelly's Punishment.
April 3. The Commons in a Grand Committee consider'd of the Pains and Penalties to be inflicted on George Kelly, and after some Debate, it was resolv'd, by 224 Voices against 112, that his Punishment should be the same as John Plunket's.
The Bishop of Rochester declines making his Defence at the Bar of the House of Commons.
April 4. The Bishop of Rochester's Tryal being to come on that Morning, his Lordship sent a Letter to Mr Speaker, which he desir'd might be communicated to the House; and accordingly, Mr Speaker read the said Letter, containing in Substance, 'That his Lordship, tho' conscious of his own Innocence, did, on several Accounts, decline giving that House any Trouble that Day, and contented himself with the Opportunity, if the Bill went on, of making his Defence before another, of which he had the Honour to be a Member.' Notwithstanding this Disappointment, the Commons proceeded in that Affair, and the Counsel for the Bill being call'd in, and the Bill read, the Counsel open'd the Evidence, and produc'd a Scheme, taken amongst Mr Layer's Papers, which was read; as were also several Copies of Letters stopp'd at the Post-Office. Then the Counsel examin'd several Witnesses, to make good the Allegations of the Bill; produc'd several Papers taken at his Lordship's Houses at Westminster and Bromley; as also a Packet taken on one of his Lordship's Servants at the Tower of London; and examin'd two Witnesses; one to prove, that a Letter and Paper contain'd in the said Packet were his Lordship's Hand-Writing; and the other to prove, that a Letter directed to Mr Dubois, taken amongst his Lordship's Papers, at the Deanry at Westminster, was seal'd with the same Seal that the Letter taken on his Lordship's Servant at the Tower, was seal'd. Then the Counsel summ'd up the Evidence, and being withdrawn, Mr Speaker open'd the Bill, which was committed to a grand Committee for the 6th Instant.
Debate on the third Reading of the Bill against Plunket. ; It passes the House.
April 5. The engross'd Bill for punishing Plunket was read the third Time; and the Question being put, That the Bill do pass, the same was strenuously oppos'd by Sir William Wyndham, who was seconded by Mr Shippen and Mr Kettleby; but being answer'd by Mr Robert Walpole and Sir Joseph Jekyll, the Question was carry'd in the Affirmative by 250 Voices against 72. Hereupon the said Bill was order'd to be carry'd up to the Lords.
The Bill against George Kelly passes the House.; Debate concerning the Punishment of the Bishop of Rochester.
April 6. The Bill for punishing George Kelly alias Johnson, was read the third Time, pass'd, and sent up to the Lords; and then the Commons went into a Grand Committee upon the Bill, For inflicting certain Pains and Penalties upon Francis Lord Bishop of Rochester. When it came to the filling up the Blank for Pains and Penalties, the CourtParty mov'd, That he should be depriv'd of his Office and Benefice, banish'd the Kingdom, be guilty of Felony if he return'd, and that it should not be in the King's Power to pardon him without Consent of Parliament; but without Forfeiture of Goods and Chattels. Hereupon Mr Lawson represented, 'That the Evidence against the Bishop being all either Hearsay, or Conjecture, and therefore not to be depended upon, he ought to have no Punishment at all.' Mr Oglethorpe was of the same Opinion, but gave it another Turn; He said, 'It was plain, the Pretender had none but a Company of silly Fellows about him; and it was to be fear'd, that if the Bishop, who was allow'd to be a Man of great Parts, should be banish'd, he might be sollicited and tempted to go to Rome, and there be in a Capacity to do more Mischief by his Advice, than if he was suffer'd to stay in England, under the watchful Eye of those in Power.' But the Question being put upon the first Motion, it was carried without any Division.
The Bill against his Lordship passes the House.
April 9. The engross'd Bill to inflict certain Pains and Penalties on Francis Lord Bishop of Rochester, was read the 3d Time, pass'd, and sent up to the Lords.
A Bill for laying a Tax on Papists read twice.
April 27. Mr Lowndes presented to the House a Bill, For laying a Tax upon Papists; which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time on the 3d of May.
May 3. The above Bill was read a second Time, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.
May 6. The Commons being in a Grand Committee on the Bill, For laying a Tax on Papists, Mr Lutwyche spoke against the said Bill as follows:
Mr Lutwyche's Speech against the said Bill.
'The Gentlemen, who have spoke in favour of this Bill, have urg'd 'That since the happy Revolution the Roman-Catholicks have been more or less concerned in every Conspiracy against the Government; so that if they did not shew themselves in the late Conspiracy, it was out of Prudence, and not for want of Zeal for the Pretender's Cause.' They will not allow, that it is liable to the Objection of not being supported with particular Facts, but say, with great Probability, 'That the Roman-Catholicks have made large Contributions here at Home, to send to the Pretender and his Adherents Abroad: And if they are in a Capacity of supplying the Necessities of their Friends Abroad, it is but very reasonable for them to contribute to the defraying an Expence they have, in a great Measure, occasioned at Home.'
'Upon this general Way of Reasoning, this Bill for raising a Hundred Thousand Pounds upon the Roman-Catholicks has been form'd; and a general Charge of this Kind may be a sufficient Ground-work for a Preamble to the Bill; but the enacting Part ought to be supported with particular Facts plainly prov'd, otherwise we may involve innocent Persons in a Punishment only due to the Guilty. And though the Legislature hath sometimes gone upon the Notoriety of the Fact, it is to be hop'd, that this Method may be but seldom taken where the Life or Fortune of any Subject is in Question; nothing being more uncertain than Hearsay, Conjecture and forc'd Constructions; which the Law has wisely provided against by ascertaining fix'd Rules to direct the Judgment of the inferior Courts of Justice.
'It is likewise given, as a Political Reason for Passing of this Bill, 'That raising this Hundred Thousand Pounds upon the Roman Catholicks will deter the Jacobites Abroad from entering upon such rash Enterprizes, when they find that their Friends here in England are to suffer for the Disturbance they give us: And it will also shew them, that the Nation can put it self in a State of Security without burthening the Subject; which has been one of the chief Views of the Conspirators to add Fewel to the Discontents of the People.' But if none of these Arguments should prevail; if the Notoriety of the Fact does not convince; nay, if the greatest Probability of the Roman-Catholicks sending Money Abroad can meet with no Credit; the Legislature, say they, is highly justify'd in passing this Law for raising an Hundred Thousand Pounds upon the Roman-Catholicks; 'Since by the Laws now in being, as by the Acts of Queen Elizabeth, the First of King George, &c. the Roman-Catholicks are subject to three Times greater Forfeitures than this Tax will amount to: And that the raising of this Hundred Thousand Pounds is a Mitigation of the Severity of the Law; and so far from being reckon'd a Hardship done them, it ought to be consider'd an Indulgence in the Government.'
'I have here thrown together some of the Reasons which have been given for passing this Bill; I think those I have mention'd are what seem'd to me to make the greatest Impression upon the House, when this Matter was first debated. These Reasons were likewise enforc'd [See p. 295.] by a Gentleman, [Mr R. Walpole] whose Opinion is justly esteem'd in all Parliamentary Considerations. I will now mention the Objections, which occur to Me against the passing of this Bill.
'In Answer to the general Surmise of the Roman-Catholicks Disaffection to the Government; I can't help observing, That this general Charge neither can nor ought to affect any particular Person, without Proof of some particular Fact alledg'd against him: And it would be the highest Injustice to make one Man suffer for the Crime of another. The Law supposing it incumbent upon every Man to be accountable for his own Actions, doth not require what is not in any Man's Power, to be answerable for another; and I think I may affirm, with great Certainty, that in no one Instance the Laws have adjudged a Penalty upon one Man for the Crime of another: For though in the Case of High-Treason, the Blood being attainted, a Son does not attain the Honours which would have descended to him, if his Father had not been guilty of Treason; yet in that Case a Man does only forfeit a Fee-simple Estate, and the Income of an Estate vested in him during his natural Life: But the highest Crimes and Misdemeanors can't avoid a Settlement, to the Prejudice of an innocent Person.
'I the rather insist upon the Unreasonableness of punishing one Man for the Crime of another, to shew the Absurdity of a Maxim which is laid down for a certain Doctrine, 'That because some of the Roman-Catholicks are suspected to have been concern'd in the late Conspiracy, therefore the whole Body of the Roman-Catholicks must equally bear the 'Burden of a Tax, which some of them only are alledg'd to have made necessary.' I would not be thought to be an Advocate for the Roman-Catholicks, any farther than common Justice requires, but I must appeal to every one who has read the Report of the Committee appointed to examine Layer, Whether it appears there that the Roman-Catholicks in general are concern'd in the Conspiracy? Or, whether any Mention is made in the Report of any one RomanCatholick of Consequence, except a Noble Duke, [the Duke of Norfolk] to whom a Letter is suppos'd to be writ, intimating, as if he knew of the Designs carrying on? How unjust then would it be, if the Suspicion of this great Man's being engag'd in traiterous Practices, at the Hazard of his Life and Fortune, should give Occasion to the inflicting the severest Penalties upon many innocent Families, who neither wish nor can hope to better their Fortune by any Revolution of Affairs.
'I think, Sir, I have fully answer'd what has been said for passing the Bill, upon the general Head of Disaffection; but one Thing more I will add, That if you impose this Tax upon the Roman-Catholicks, upon a general Allegation, 'That their Religion maintains Principles inconsistent with the Welfare of the Government;' you punish them for the Cause of their Religion. And for my own Part, I look upon Persecution to be a Doctrine odious in it self, highly reflecting upon the Honour of Parliament, and greatly infringing upon the Freedom of the Subject. Nor would I have his Majesty's mild and gracious Reign blemish'd with such a merciless Act of the Legislature, which must necessarily confirm the obstinate in their Errors, and entirely alienate the Affections of the well-dispos'd Roman-Catholicks.
We are likewise told, 'That the raising this Hundred Thousand Pounds upon the Roman-Catholicks is done out of a Political Reason, to deter the Jacobites Abroad from entering upon such rash Enterprizes, by making their Friends here in England pay the Expence which the Nation finds necessary for its own Security.' As this is a Matter meerly of Speculation, and as there is no certain Rule to go by to know what will be the Consequence of raising such a Tax, I will venture to give my Conjectures upon this Head. I do imagine, that as the Pretender's Scheme is unjust in itself, it can be form'd upon no better Hopes than the Discontents of the People; and the more Room there is for Complaint, the better Prospect he has of Success: And if it does happen that these Complaints are well-grounded, as were the Losses the People suffer'd in the South-Sea, then in such like Case, how much Industry is us'd by the Jacobites to aggravate the National Grievances; and to impute every Mischance to the ill Conduct of the Government. I am afraid, if the RomanCatholicks should be thus heavily tax'd; if their peaceable and quiet Behaviour does not intitle them to the common Protection of the Government; nay, if they are more hardly us'd by not having been concern'd than when they were actually engag'd in Rebellion; I say, I am afraid they will embrace any Opportunity to free themselves from such intolerable Burdens, thinking under no Form of Government they can receive worse Treatment.
'I shall next consider the Groundwork of this whole Bill, viz. 'The raising one Hundred Thousand Pounds upon the Roman-Catholicks, in lieu of certain Forfeitures they have incurr'd by several Acts of Parliament now in being.' And by stating the Balance betwixt the Roman-Catholicks and the Government, it is pretended, 'That the Sum now demanded of the Roman Catholicks falls far short of what is due to the Government, if all their Forfeitures were rigorously exacted.' I am very ready to grant, that the RomanCatholicks have incurr'd several Forfeitures: But I think the Question at present is, Whether it is necessary at this Time, for the Security of the Government, to take Advantage of those Forfeitures? For if there is not some particular Reason shewn, why you ought to exact them more at this Time than another, you may with equal Justice raise one Hundred Thousand Pounds the next Year upon the Roman-Catholicks; and so on, whenever the Government shall stand in need of such a Fund. But surely 'tis not sufficient to say, because the Roman-Catholicks have incurr'd several Forfeiture, that therefore you will take Advantage of them: For the plain Answer to that is, Why do you do it now? And, Why have you not done it before? It is here necessary to observe, That when the Legislature pass'd this Law, to subject the Roman-Catholicks to the Forfeiture of two Thirds of their Estates, this Law was rather made intentionally to keep the Roman Catholicks in Subjection to the Government, than with any Design of having it put in Execution. For otherwise I dare say, so many Administrations, who are the executive Part of the Law, could never have thus long dispens'd with their Duty.
'If we look back as far as the Reformation, we shall find, that the Roman-Catholicks were never more numerous, never more powerful, than at the Revolution, just upon King James's Abdication. Then all Means had been us'd to propagate Popery; Men of that Persuasion were put into Places of Profit and Trust; the Army was fill'd with Roman-Catholicks, and it was generally thought that the Nation was ripe to take upon them the Drudgery of the Roman Yoke. When King William came to the Crown, he was warmly told of the Dangers of Popery; that as there were severe Laws against the Roman-Catholicks, they ought to be put in Execution: That the Roman-Catholicks held Correspondence, and were carrying on Plots and Contrivances with King James, then in France, who, as he had an undoubted Title to the Crown, was supported by one of the most powerful Princes in Europe. Then the Competition for the Crown was greatly different from the wild and extravagant Pretensions of a Popish Fugitive, fled to Rome for Sanctuary, after having been turn'd out of most of the Courts of Europe. But King William, who was a wise and just Prince, and knew that no Free State could long subsist, but in doing equal and impartial Justice, would not consent to the putting those Laws in Execution against the Roman-Catholicks, which he knew amounted to no less than a Persecution. However, the King, to gratify the Fears of those about him, who were continually possessing him with the Dangers of Popery, order'd an exact Account to be taken of the Conformists, Non-Conformists, and Papists in England, to see what Proportion there was betwixt the Papists and Protestants; and upon an exact Scrutiny, the Account was found to stand thus: One Hundred and Seventy Nine Conformists, viz. those of the Establish'd Church, to one Papist; besides Presbyterians, Quakers, Independents, and all other Protestant Dissenters.
'If the Roman-Catholicks were, at the beginning of the Revolution, but a handful of People; if all the Encouragement given to them by King James could not enable them to maintain a King of their own Religion upon the Throne, what have we now to apprehend from them? Since many of them have follow'd the Fate of King James, and several of them have conform'd to the Church of England: So that we may reasonably conclude, that the Number of RomanCatholicks is one Third less than they were when King William came to the Crown. And I beg Leave here to observe a Notion, which has long prevail'd, 'That the Liberties of England can never be in Danger, but by the Roman-Catholicks.' Indeed, one would have imagin'd that Experience would have exploded this Opinion, since there is nothing more certain than if all the Protestants were united, no Power upon Earth could hurt us. The Contest does not lye betwixt the Protestant and Roman-Catholick Religion: Our Divisions are not occasion'd by the Increase of Popery, but it is obvious to every Man unconcern'd in the Dispute, how the Leaders of each Party promote their own mercenary Ends, by possessing their Followers with unnecessary Fears and groundless Jealousies.
'I must own, besides the Injustice of passing such a Law, I am mov'd with Compassion to my Fellow-Subjects, whose Condition must be very deplorable, if this Bill should pass into a Law. I would instance in the Case of a Gentleman of a Thousand Pounds per Annum, who pays Five Hundred Pounds per Annum Rent Charge: He must pay double Taxes, which, at present amounting to Four Shillings in the Pound, comes to Two Hundred Pounds a Year, out of his Thousand Pounds a Year: He must likewise pay his Proportion of this Hundred Thousand Pounds, which, at a moderate Computation, will be Five Shillings in the Pound, which is Two Hundred and Fifty Pounds more to be added to the Deduction out of his Estate; What then will a Gentleman of a Thousand Pounds per Annum have to live upon? It is said in Answer to this, That the Roman-Catholicks do not pay more Taxes, in several Places, than the Protestants. But suppose it were true, that they now pay no more than Two Shillings in the Pound, the Case of this Gentleman will be still very much to be lamented; and instead of paying Nine Hundred and Fifty Pounds, he will pay Eight Hundred and Fifty Pounds out of his Estate. I have mention'd this particular Case, to shew the unreasonable Severity of this Tax; but I dare say, many more Instances might be given of the like Nature.
'I can't help being a little surpriz'd, that those Gentlemen who are so well acquainted with the Circumstances of our Affairs Abroad, did not consider, before they brought in this Bill upon the Roman-Catholicks, that his Majesty's Allies would certainly interpose in their Behalf: And if upon a Refusal to act the friendly Part, our Protestant Brethren Abroad should be more severely dealt with, we should in vain complain of the Breach of Treaties and of the Laws of the Empire, when we have broke through the common Ties of Humanity.
'I know no better Rule of Government, than to punish the Guilty, and protect the innocent; neither the one can complain of hard Usage, tho' he may be pitied, nor will the other wish for a Change of that Government, which defends him from the Oppression of wicked and ill-designing Men. But to punish a Body of People, whom before the Report was made, you suspected to be criminally concern'd in the Conspiracy; and whom, upon Enquiry, you find to be innocent in every particular Suggestion alledg'd against them, I do not take to be the Means of convincing the World of the Impartiality of our Proceedings.
'I find great Stress laid upon the Roman-Catholicks sending Money to the Pretender, and his Adherents Abroad; a Fact so confidently affirm'd, that one would expect some better Proof of it than a general Assertion; and yet I have never heard one single Instance given to convince me of the Truth of this Assertion. Considering the great Vigilance of the Ministry, who have been able to discover the most subtle Contrivances in carrying on this Conspiracy, it appears to me very unlikely, if the Roman-Catholicks had made any considerable Remittances Abroad, that they should have escap'd the Notice of the Government. I would fain know how comes this Notion of the Roman-Catholicks sending Money Abroad; and why they are more zealous for the Pretender's Cause, than the rest of the Jacobites? If it is an equal Contribution among the Jacobites, it ought to be an equal Tax upon the Nonjurors and every Man who has paid his Quota, as well as upon the Roman-Catholicks. But to single out one Set of Men from the Herd of the Jacobites; and upon mere Supposition, to inflict the severest Penalties upon them, is an Act no ways agreeable to the just and equitable Proceedings of Parliament. For which Reasons I am against this Bill.'
Mr Trenchard moves, that the Nonjurors be included in the Tax to be laid on the Papists; which is agreed to.
Mr Lutwyche was supported by Mr West, Lord Gage, and Mr Thompson, Member for York; Mr Trenchard, in particular, declar'd, 'That he thought it very unreasonable that the Papists should bear the whole Burden of this Tax, when there were so many Jacobites who had contributed as much to the raising Publick Disturbances as the Papists themselves; and therefore he mov'd, 'That the Nonjurors ought to be included in the said Tax intended to be raised upon Papists: Accordingly, after some Debate, the Committee came to the following Resolution, viz. That towards raising the Sum of 100,000£. granted to his Majesty, towards reimbursing to the Publick the great Expences occasion'd by the late Rebellions and Disorders, to be rais'd and levied upon the real and personal Estates of all Papists, an equal Rate and Proportion be rais'd and levied upon the real and personal Estates of every other Person, being of the Age of eighteen Years or upwards, not having taken the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, and the Abjuration Oath, who shall upon due Summons neglect or refuse to take the same. This Resolution being the next Day reported by Mr Farrer, a Motion was made, and the Question put, that the said Resolution be recommitted, but it was carried in the Negative; Then it was resolv'd, That the House do agree with the Committee, and order'd, That there be an Instruction to the Committee of the whole House to alter and amend the Bill, For laying a Tax on all Papists, pursuant to the said Resolution.
The Commons, in a Grand Committee, add a Clause for including the Scots Papists and Nonjurors in the said Bill.
May 11. The Commons, in a Committee of the whole House, made a farther Progress in the Bill, For laying a Tax upon Papists; and a Motion being made by Mr Lutwyche for a Clause for including the Papists and Nonjurors in Scotland, in the Tax intended to be laid on Papists and Nonjurors in England, it was carried in the Affirmative by a Majority of five Voices only.
Debate concerning the said Clause upon its being reported to the House. ; The above Clause rejected, and a Bill order'd for registring the Estates of the Scots Papists and Nonjurors, which passes the House.
May 14. Mr Farrer reported the Amendments the Committee had made to the Bill, which were agreed to, except the Clause above-mention'd; upon which a Debate arising, Lord Gage and Mr Hutcheson insisted upon the Equitableness of the said Clause, and Sir Joseph Jekyll said thereupon, 'That he knew no Reason why the Scots should be excus'd from paying their Proportion of this extraordinary Tax, unless it was, because forty-five Scots Representatives in that House always voted as they were directed: But if that was the Reason, it was to be fear'd, least Cornwall, which sends up almost an equal Number of Members, might, upon the same Consideration, claim an Exemption from Taxes.' But Mr Robert Walpole having represented, That the Names and real Estates of the Scots Papists and Nonjurors not being register'd, it was impossible to ascertain their Proportion of this Tax, he was supported by most of the Courtiers; and the Question being put, That the said Clause be made Part of the Bill, it was carried in the Negative by 178 Votes against 170; and then some other Amendments being made by the House to the Bill, it was order'd to be engross'd. However, two Days after, a Bill was order'd to be brought in, to oblige all Papists and Nonjurors in Scotland, to register their Names and real Estates; which was accordingly brought in, and had an easy Passage through both Houses.
The Bill, For laying a Tax on Papists, &c. pass'd;
May 17. The engross'd Bill, For laying a Tax upon Papists and Nonjurors in England, was pass'd and sent up to the Lords.
The Royal Assent given thereto; and also to the Bills against Plunket, Kelly, and the Ep. of Rochester.
May 27. The King came to the House of Peers with the usual State, and the Commons attending, their Speaker, upon presenting the Bill, For laying a Tax upon Papists and Nonjurors, made a Speech, wherein he shew'd the Occasion and Necessity of that Tax, on account of the late horrid and execrable Conspiracy, in which they had so great a Share. After this, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent to the said Bill; Also to the Bill, To oblige all Papists in Scotland, and Nonjurors in Great-Britain, to register their Names and real Estates; To the Bills, For inflicting Pains and Penalties on John Plunket, George Kelly, and Dr Francis Atterbury Lord Bishop of Rochester: Likewise to several other Bills, which, as they were not the Subject of any SPEECHES or DEBATES, it would be foreign to our Purpose to take Notice of here.
Then the Lord Chancellor read his Majesty's Speech to both Houses, as follows:
King's Speech at putting an End to the First Session of his Second Parliament.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I am persuaded, notwithstanding the unusual Length of this Session, you will not think your Time has been misemploy'd in consulting the necessary Means for preserving the Peace and Quiet of the Kingdom, and bringing to Justice some of the chief Promoters of that Confusion which lately threatned the Nation.
"The prudent Measures you have taken for our common Security, and your enabling me to defend my Kingdoms against any Designs or Attempts of our Enemies, are the most convincing Testimonies of your Fidelity and Affection to me, and of your Concern for the Liberties of my People. Be assur'd, the Confidence you have repos'd in me shall never be made Use of but for their Safety and Defence.
"The Papers which have been laid before you, for your Information, and have since been publish'd for the Satisfaction of the World, evidently shew, that the Conspirators had brought their wicked Arts and Practices to such Perfection, that they confidently carried on their traiterous Projects in Defiance of the Law, from an Assurance of their being able to elude it: The Respect and Reverence due to the Law had been lost, and the Tranquility of my People endanger'd, had not you interpos'd. This made it necessary for the Legislature to exert itself in punishing such Offenders, whose Guilt is too certain to leave the least Room for Doubt, and whose Crimes are too heinous to admit of any Aggravation.
"And yet it is with Pleasure I reflect, that the Justice of Parliament has been so temper'd with Mercy, that even those who are resolv'd to be dissatisfied, must acknowledge the Lenity of your Proceedings, and will be at a Loss for any Pretence to complain, so few Examples having been made, and the Penalties, inflicted by Bill, falling so much short of the Punishments due to the same Crimes by the common Course of Law.
"The Firmness you have shewn must convince the World, how much They were mistaken, whose chief Hopes were founded on the Disaffection of my People. It gave me great Satisfaction to see as general a Concurrence in full Parliament upon this Occasion, as has been ever known on any former; and it is to be hop'd, our Enemies will cease to flatter themselves with the vain Imagination of being able to subvert our Religion and present Establishment.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I must acknowledge, in a particular Manner, the great Readiness you have shewn in raising the necessary Supplies for the ensuing Year: It is an unexpected Felicity, that you have been able so far to disappoint the Hopes of our Enemies, as to avoid laying any new Burthen upon my People: And that soon after that great Shock and Convulsion in all the publick Funds, and in the midst of intestine Alarms and Disturbances, the Credit of the Nation should so far revive and flourish, that not only the Supplies of the Year should be rais'd, at a much lower Interest than was ever known in the most quiet Times, but Part of the National Debt should be reduc'd from an Interest of 5 to 3 per Cent. and put in a Course of being soon discharg'd.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I return you my most sincere Thanks for the indefatigable Pains you have taken in the Service of the Publick. I earnestly recommend it to you, in your several Stations and Countries, to persevere in your Endeavours for preserving the Peace of the Kingdom; by Justice and Resolution, to subdue the restless Spirit of Faction and Sedition; and by Prudence and Temper, to reconcile the Misled.
"Some extraordinary Affairs calling me Abroad this Summer, I doubt not but that the Wisdom and Vigilance of my good Subjects will prevent our Enemies from taking any Advantage of my Absence. To gain the Hearts and Affections of my People, shall always be my first and principal Care. On their Duty and Loyalty I will intirely depend: And they may as surely depend on my Protection in the full Enjoyment of their Religion, Liberty, and Property."
The Parliament prorogued.
Then the Lord Chancellor prorogu'd the Parliament to the second Day of July; after which they were farther prorogu'd to the 9th of January.