Debates in 1678: November (9th-13th)

Pages 172-192

Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 6. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

Saturday, November 9.

The King, in a Speech to both Houses, "gave them Thanks for their [great and extraordinary] care for the preservation of his Person and Government," and assured them, "that he would be ready to give his consent to such reasonable Bills as should be presented, to make them safe in the Reign of any Successor, so as they tend not to impeach the right of Succession, nor the Descent of the Crown in the true Line; and so as they restrain not his Power, nor the just Rights of any Protestant Successor, &c."


Mr Sacheverell.] I desire to know whether the conditions in the King's Speech are not to tie our hands so fast, that we can do nothing for the King's safety, or the Protestant Religion. I think it not a home, full, and effectual Security, but such an one as may deceive both the King and his people. I am one of those of opinion not to accept of a rattle, to keep us quiet. If we may not make our own Securities, I had rather lay the whole thing upon the King, and leave it to the King, for him to secure it which way he please.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The King will consent "to any reasonable way of Security of the Protestant Religion in the reign of any Successor;" but you would not have him consent to all things that are in his power: That were to give up his Royal Power.

Mr Sacheverell.] I will tell you one point in the King's Speech, and see if all the House can answer me. It is put into the King's Speech, "that, if we infringe not the Rights of a Protestant Successor, we shall have Laws to make us safe, &c." If we have no Security that the Successor shall be a Protestant, you sit down, and can do nothing effectually.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] If it be as that Gentleman says, there needs no Bill at all for Security of the Protestant Religion, for the Bill must run, "every King hereafter, not doing thus and thus, shall not succeed."

Mr Sacheverell.] If any King does not perform the conditions of the Bill, shall any subject resist that King? I would know that.

The Speaker.] If you will set a time when, or enter now upon the Bill, you may; but this way of Debate is irregular. The first thing you are to do, is to set a time to consider of the King's Speech.

Mr Sacheverell.] I moved not particulars, I avoided it.

Colonel Birch.] I suppose it is agreed, "that Thanks shall be returned to his Majesty, for the gracious Expressions in his Speech." Till something of this be done, neither his Majesty's life, nor we, can be safe. I would not delay one hour, to consider this matter, though tomorrow be Sunday, and a day for another purpose. This business will not keep. The better day, the better deed. You cannot delay this.

Sir John Ernly.] I speak only as to considering this to-morrow. To-day, before to-morrow, is not soon enough, and I am for to-morrow.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] If you consider the weight of the thing, it is as great a matter as ever came before us. It is necessary we should be all clear in our minds, and of the King's mind also. The King's heartwas never more open than in this business. He says, "to you it is left entirely to make what security you please." I think there is no effect for pressing it to-morrow, and let this have the preference on Monday.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] I hear our Bill for excluding Members of both Houses that refuse the Oaths, &c. and the Test, is in a fair progress in the Lords House, and I hope we shall address the King to pass that Bill, and then we shall have the more unanimity—I would proceed now in the Letters, &c. and I would be glad to see public justice done on offenders; and then we shall go on chearfully.

Sir Richard Temple.] I am glad there is farther discovery of Letters, ready. We have a double aspect, to be safe in Religion, &c. for the present, and for the future. I would go on with the Letters now, and on Monday with remedies for our safety for the present. Let us not call for more evidence of the Plot—We have enough before us, at present, to convince and awaken us. The King has told you what he will do, but not what he will not do.

Colonel Titus.] Information we have enough already, and if we think not ourselves in as bad a condition as may be, then we may seek for farther information. If we stay for more, it will do us no good, and we may stay so long that the matter may be past remedy. Other letters beget no more belief than we have already—The King intends all he says in his Speech, but his Speech naturally leads you to what you fear for the future.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I did not hear the Order of Thanks read for the King's Speech. I hope you intend it not general, but with restrictions, viz. "for the gracious Expressions in his Speech." Now there are twenty three companies, and all Popish Officers—Therefore I would have a short day set to show the King, that it is impossible we should have any Security so long as such Officers are in being.

Ordered, That the King's Speech be taken into consideration on Monday; and that Thanks be returned to his Majesty for the gracious Expressions in his Speech.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] The King is sensible of the defect in the Prayers, and has ordered my Lord of Canterbury to attend him about it. This I am ordered from the King to let you know.

Sir Richard Everard.] I have searched for, and have found, a person mentioned in Mr Coleman's Letters. I found, in his chamber, a great number of Papers. He took no notice of the Proclamation, and staid in town. He is one Mons. Tortereaux. I would have your direction what I shall do with his Papers. I have set a good guard upon him for the present. He has the gout, and is full of pain.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] He was never under the notion of a Priest. He is an old man, and very infirm.

Mr Henry Seymour.] He was Carver to the Queenmother. He married Lady Molyneux. He has not brains enough to be a plotter.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] I see these people have advocates; but that he has stayed after the Proclamation is plain; therefore I would have the Oaths tendered him.

Colonel Birch.] I wonder this should be an argument for his stay. We know, by experience, that men may have the gout, and yet their tongues and heads be well enough. (Carew had the gout at that time.) If you break rules, your Proclamation will be worth nothing— Is this a time to excuse Papists, and talk of "Carvers to the Queen-mother?" Let him take the Oaths, or go to jail.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I would know, whether he is in the long roll of those licensed by the Council.

Sir Henry Capel.] A Member yesterday (Mr Hampden) offered to serve you, and before Mr Ayliffe could be called in, your Clerk reflected upon him, &c. and he went away. We ought now to spare nobody (fn. 1). Everard has informed you about Tortereaux. He is a Justice of the Peace. Pray let him go to jail, if he take not the Oaths, &c.

Sir John Ernly.] Proceed with every man alike, and when his Papers are inspected, proceed with him.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] I hear that Justices of the Peace are limited to the Oaths, &c. in their Commissions, as to housholders and foreigners. By the Statute of King James all are to take the Oaths—I hear that the Commissions to give the Oaths are limited and qualified; and then the Justices have no power to give them.

Sir William Hickman.] If there be these doings already, what shall we come to hereafter? Therefore I would have some Gentlemen inspect the Commissions.

The Speaker.] The matter before you is the information of Sir Richard Everard. You cannot proceed in a thing where matter of Law may do. That is without end —Refer the Papers to what Committee you please—If you would have the Commission brought hither, you suspend all execution of it for the present.

He was answered,] That the Clerk of the Crown may immediately bring the Commissions hither for you to inspect them; and no delay may be in the execution of it.

Which was ordered accordingly.

Colonel Birch.] I am now for losing no time. I would not sit looking on one another, now we are come to great things—The most material Letters may be reported.

Mr Sacheverell.] I would have two Letters reported, one from the Cardinal of Norfolk, how the Pope directs matters for Religion; the other from Sir William Throgmorton, concerning the Duke's assisting the matter in promotion of the Catholic Religion.

The Speaker reads the Letters, to the following effect: "His Majesty of France will show that he will take his Highness's part —This Parliament is not profitable for the King of France, nor for his Royal Highness, and so it is put on by my Lord Arlington —If the Ambassador Rouvigny be not to his Highness's liking, the King of France will send over what other person he would have —If the Duke could carry on a dissolution of the Parliament, to do it upon any terms—But if the Duke cannot do it under 200,000l. take care to let us have it—You cannot imagine how the King is despised, and if the Duke should be so too, the disease is epidemical---The Archbishop of Dublin is the lyingest rogue in the world, and has done us no good---We are rejoiced to hear of the dissolving of the Parliament—Nothing will settle things more lastingly, than making the Duke's and the King of France's interest one—The Duke may have great advantage by joining with the French King—Money is a cunning sophister—You know those whom Money has power of, are the scum of the Family, who say one thing to-day, and act the contrary to-morrow, as Rouvigny's predecessor, [Courtin,] knew to his cost (fn. 2)."

Mr Secretary Williamson.] Mr Bedlow lodged at my house the other night, but I thought myself not answerable for so great a stake. Now he lodges at Whitehall, and I suppose he is attending at the Lords.

Ordered, That Mr Bedlow attend here at four of the clock this afternoon, andthat Mr Vice-chamberlain bring him with a guard.

In the Afternoon.

The Clerk of the Crown brought the Commissions, &c. for giving the Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, &c. and said, "that a preparatory form of the Commission was brought by Mr Attorney General to my Lord Chancellor; it remains with Mr Harris; it could not be sealed, but must be altered."

The Speaker.] There has been formerly a Dedimus potestatem, where divers Members have been Commissioners to give the Oaths; and no Catholics were convicted.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I would humbly represent it to the King, that the obstruction is from the Lords of the Council, that this Commission is not issued out; and the miscarriage arises from thence.

Serjeant Rigby.] I would enquire where this stop is, for if inferior people may make these stoppages, we are not and cannot be safe.

Colonel Birch.] I would be glad to see what this Commission is, that must be thus altered. This must be of vast weight, that must hinder this seal from passing, and thereby keep so many Catholics in town against the Proclamation.

Mr Sacheverell.] I do believe that there is some Command that supersedes the King's Command. I would know, whether ever Mr Harris read this Commission, or no.

Clerk of the Crown.] I tendered the Ingrossment to Mr Harris, which I brought to the Chancellor. One comes, who read some of it; the Chancellor said, "the form must be altered." I tendered it on Thursday morning.

Sir Thomas Meres.] It is strange that an Address of both Houses cannot procure a thing so ordinary as this Commission. The Papists say, "that all inferior persons are out of their wits;" and they will say, "inferior Clerks are out of their wits, that take false Examinations and Informations." Your sending for Macarty did you more good than the Proclamation, though you dismissed him civilly. Send for Harris, and him next to him, and find this neglect out, and stand not upon formalities.

Mr Sacheverell.] I would not go this way of sending for the Chancellor's servants, to prevent a breach with the Lords; but I would go up to the House of Peers, and charge the Chancellor with this presently, that he may give an account of this to the Peers.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] You may do it at a Conference, to inform the Lords of this miscarriage presently.

The Commission was read.

Mr Powle.] The King is graciously pleased to tell you, "that he will consent to Laws for your preservation in a future Succession;" but it will be to no purpose to make new Laws, if the old ones are not executed. There is a defect somewhere near the Government, that all along discourages the execution of them—This House must take care of the execution of Laws, as well as making them. It may be imputed to us abroad, that the half ways we have taken in these things, occasion this, the Lords, and we, and the King having applied remedies. Let us represent it to the Lords at a Conference, that there is a non-execution of the Proclamation, of the King's Commands and Laws, and desire remedies from their Lordships.

Sir Edward Dering.] I know that the Chancellor is a good Protestant—The Commission was not right, and the Lord Chancellor would have it mended—Pray stay your farther proceedings till Monday, and have a true narrative of the fact; and then you may proceed as you please.

Colonel Titus.] If this Dedimus potestatem, that the Attorney General brought to the Chancellor, be against Law, let him be punished for doing it against Law. What we do out of complaisance and civility, is accounted abroad meanness and poorness. If the Lord Chancellor has no better testimony of his care of the Protestant Religion, than he has given in this, it is very slender, and signifies little. I would have a Conference with the Lords upon this, as is moved.

Serjeant Maynard.] All we have is at stake; and if the Chancellor, or who he will, be to blame, I will not speak for him, if the honour of this House is concerned, but I will speak for it. But suppose you go and charge the Chancellor with this, and there is no such thing. Enquire into the whole matter; send for Harris; lest you have no proof of the thing, and then turn your backs. You have not yet that proof before you, as to maintain it at the Conference; and it will not be for your honour.

Mr Powle.] That which I design to speak to, is this: Serjeant Maynard is mistaken. This is no direct Charge against the Chancellor, but to desire the Lords to enquire into the thing, to avoid a Breach of Privilege of sending for Harris, who is attending upon a Peer. No man can defend this, that a Proclamation should be sent out on Monday, &c. and no Commissions till Saturday

The Speaker.] Nothing can hinder your enquiry into this; and in sending to the Lords you wound your own Power. You are angry with the Chancellor, because he has not sent out an imperfect Commission; a greater fault, if he had, than sending none. Examine it, to be rightly before you.

Mr Sacheverell.] You have had the same excuse formerly, when the Commission was imperfect in our country for conviction of Recusants, and that was never rectified.

The Speaker.] I will excuse nobody. My endeavours are to serve the House, as far as I can; but I would not have you out of the way. The Proclamation being out, there is a List given in of those that stay; and that must have time to be returned, and it could not be done sooner with any effect; and there has been no time lost.

Sir Thomas Meres.] It was said, "that a Constable told Sir John Cutler, that his Return was ready of the Names, &c." but Cutler said, "I have no Commission to give the Oaths."

Sir Francis Russel.] I gave Meres an account of it, and my Landlord, a Constable, informed me of it.

Colonel Titus.] Under the pretence of changing the form of this Commission, it is delayed. If any Member had said it, or the Clerk of the Crown, it had been something; but it is one thing to say, "that the Commission must be changed in the form," and another, "that it is imperfect."

Mr Secretary Williamson.] I was absent at the first part of this Debate. I see it is about the Commission that the Chancellor is to issue out. You will please to see to what degree the Chancellor is the occasion of this. There were two persons brought to me, suspected of Popery; they were returned by the Constable of St Martin's parish, who said, "he must offer them the Oaths to take." They said, "we are ready to come over to the Church from whence we went, upon discovery of this horrid Plot." I beg it may be considered. If the List could have been done in two or three days by the Constables, then it might have been an omission. The Lord Chancellor has called often to his officers for it. These things considered, whether you will proceed with such exactness? You may send to the Lord Chancellor to know farther, &c. and whether you will depart from that right of sending for persons, I would have it well considered. You may send some Members of your own to the Chancellor.

Colonel Birch.] All this business is cut out by a thread. If there be any such fools as Coleman, to let Papers lie from August to the latter end of September, they might have been taken—Information was given, that Sir Edmundbury Godfrey was at Somerset-House at six of the clock that night he was missing; and it was not searched till next day. Here is remissness in every thing. I mistrust not the Lord Chancellor in this, but some other persons—Till you have gone to the bottom of this, if every Minister be not as diligent as you, you will never do any thing—Send for a Conference, therefore, to the Lords, to examine this.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] I have no heart to question Ministers; we could never carry the questioning of one yet. and then I am sure we shall never be able to carry the whole lump. The Proclamation is drawn according to Law, and well drawn—We are not now to compliment; wherever the fault is, there let them hear of it.

Mr Finch.] The Question now before you is, how it comes to pass that the Commission for giving the Oaths, &c. is not issued out?—I am not able to give you an account, but I am willing to know—I am so sensible of the integrity of the person of the Chancellor, that he is willing you should search into the bottom of it. Before you come to Conference with the Lords, send to him. If he gives you not a satisfactory answer, then you may proceed as you please; but this is to accuse him before you have ground. If the Chancellor did not proceed as to the Information of Mr Oates in time, it was not imparted to him in time, and he could not proceed.

Mr Sacheverell.] I have a great respect for my Lord Chancellor. I accuse him not. I believe this obstruction comes from a greater hand. But the not sealing these Commissions is the thing. I hope, ere long, we shall find out a way of conviction of Papists more effectual.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] This Proclamation was issued out by the joint Address of both Houses; and I think it the most proper way to go by the Lords, in our Enquiry into this neglect, and it is no Infringement of our Right at all.

Sir William Hickman.] I am for sending now to the Lords, &c. because, when you sent once to the Chancellor, about putting Gentlemen out of Commission of the Peace, he answered, "that as we were Members of the House of Commons, he could give us no answer."

Ordered, That a Conference be desired with the Lords, to enquire into the reason of the Lord Chancellor's not issuing out Commissions to tender the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, according to the King's Proclamation; [which the Lords agreed to, and fixed for Monday.]

[Mr Bedlow was ordered to attend to-morrow.]

Sunday, November 10, in the Afternoon.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] I must complain to you, that, in the Prayers for the Fast, there is not one word of the Plot nor Popery (fn. 3). I desire the last Prayers that were set out, may be read.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] The House is so favourable to those that go upon their commands, that they give them in writing; the King had it read to him, and he ordered my Lord of Canterbury to attend him about it.

Colonel Birch.] Read the Prayers and the Address, and then you will see whether they are according to your Address.

They were read.

Mr Powle.] I observe plainly that there is not one mention of the Papists. The Prayers may be as well relating to Fanatics as Papists. No wonder that the Privy Counsellors will not speak plainly to the King, when the Bishops will not speak plainly to God Almighty. I would enquire into it.

Sir Thomas Meres.] It is a very good Prayer, but I see there is an awe and terror upon those that made it. We must remove that terror. It is not according to the sense of the House. If any man be of another sense, let him dare to show it.

Colonel Birch.] It is enough. This is to make every man look about him. Certainly this is not the mind of all England. The earth seems to shake under us. We are afraid to handle this. I would have the new Prayers that shall be made, sent to every County and Borough by the respective Members.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I am loth to lose your time by Addresses; but since the Prayer has not answered your Addresses, I hope you will send to the King to know why his commands are not obeyed.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] The Proclamation is according to our Address. The very words in our Address gave the Bishops words for the Prayers; but I find them in dustriously avoided. The Prayers may be ready against the time of the Fast; and I would let the King know that his commands are not obeyed.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] Consider, this was the Address of both Houses; and I would have the Lords in this taken along with you.

Sir Henry Capel.] We ought to proceed with equal Justice. I have a great honour for my Lord of Canterbury; but I would to-morrow, at a Conference with the Lords, let them know the defect; and desire them to join with you in an Address to his Majesty, that his commands may be obeyed, &c.

Sir Christopher Musgrave.] This is not upon an equal foot with that matter relating to my Lord Chancellor yesterday.—The King answered your Address, and the second Answer was to you only; and in this you may go to the King without the Lords.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] I agree to the Address to the King. It is not the Archbishop of Canterbury's authority, but the King's, that causes these Prayers to be composed. It is the King that commands it.—To save the scandal of mending and mending Prayers, pray go to the King, and not by way of the Lords.

Sir Thomas Meres.] I think it is agreed that the second Address about the Prayers was immediately by us to the King. I know not how to send to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think him a very worthy man, but I would send to the King.

Sir Robert Sawyer.] It is the Gentry that must preserve the Crown and Religion. I am glad to see the zeal of the House in this. Pray let us go to the King, &c. with an Address to him, that his Commands are not observed, &c.

Colonel Birch.] If there be tenderness in this matter, we all see and know where it is; but let it not be here. Represent the defect of the Prayers, in the words of the former Address.

Colonel Titus.] I would not have the words of the Address, "that the King's Commands are not fully obeyed."That will imply, as if the King's Commands have been obeyed in part.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to represent to him, that his Majesty's Commands, for composing an additional Prayer, or Prayers, [to be used on Wednesday next,] relating to the horrid Plot and Conspiracy, have not as yet been obeyed, [no mention being therein made of the Papists, &c.] and that the Members of the Privy Council carry it.

Mr William Bedlow (fn. 4) was then called in, to give an account concerning the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, as also concerning the Plot.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I would have him asked only, whether he has been examined by any judicial Power before he came hither, to the end that he may not recede nor go back from what he says.

Sir Thomas Meres.] I would have the truth from him, without asking him the least question; and take care that we do not in the least invalidate his Testimony, when he is to give it at Tryals. If he will tender any Narrative in writing, you may accept of it, but I would not introduce him by any questions.

Mr Bedlow was brought to the Bar.

The Speaker.] Mr Bedlow, You are brought hither for enquiry into the Popish Plot, and the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey. The House leaves it to yourself to take your own way how you came to the knowledge of it, and what induced your discovery.

Then Mr Bedlow read a Narrative, which he presented to the Lords (fn. 5). All the Information he then gave at the Bar, relating to the Plot, is fully mentioned in the Tryals of the Murderers of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, and others of the Traytors, &c. He withdrew.

Upon some reflections he made, of Correspondences in Hull, for betraying the Deputy Governor,

Colonel Rigby said,] I have the honour to be Deputy Governor of Hull, and I desire Mr Bedlow's particular Examination whom this Correspondence is with, that honest men may be vindicated, and others punished.

Serjeant Maynard.] I never knew but that, upon publication of Evidence, Witnesses were found out to contradict that Evidence; therefore I would have Mr Bedlow's Papers kept private.

Mr Sacheverell.] I would do this to prevent publication: I desire that we may have these Papers sealed up till to-morrow, that we may see they are the same that Mr Bedlow read to us.

[Ordered, That the said Papers be sealed up forthwith, and do so remain till farther Order.]

Mr Secretary Coventry acquaints the House, that Sir Ellis Leighton's Papers were seized before he came to Dover; that he was searched at his arrival at Dover, but he had no Papers about him to make much matter of; some few Letters were found upon his two maid servants, and there being nothing against him, I would know whether you would have him discharged.

Monday, November 11.

On the High Sheriff's undue Return for the Borough of Northampton.

Mr Williams.] The Judges were of opinion, in the case of Sir Samuel Barnardiston, upon argument in the Exchequer chamber, "that an action of the case does not lie upon an undue Return made; but that the House of Commons may fine him for misdemeanor." It is now an ordinary thing to spend 3 or 4000l. upon an Election in a Borough. I would therefore have you fine the Sheriff for this undue Return.

Sir Thomas Lee.] This being the first example of this kind, I would have the Serjeant take the Sheriff into custody; not to go abroad at his pleasure, but to keep him close; and that is the reason why you do not send him to the Tower.

[Ordered, That Mr Neale, High Sheriff for the County of Northampton, be committed to the custody of the Serjeant at Arms; and Mr Ralph Montagu (fn. 6) was declared duly elected.]

Mr Powle reports the Conference with the Lords, concerning the not issuing out the Commissions for giving the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, &c. The Lords giving your Managers no Paper, if I be not so exact in the Report as I should be, yet I hope I shall omit nothing material that the Lords delivered. "The Lords take in good part the zeal of the House of Commons in this matter. They say, that if the Commissions, &c. had been issued out before the returns had been made of Papists, or suspected Papists, there could have been no use made of them, for they could not have been executed: [That nevertheless] the Lords thought it not enough to tell you, that there was no negligence of the Chancellor in the matter; but that, with all the care that possibly could be, the Commissions will be brought to the Justices by Thursday: The Lords have had the matter in Debate, and what limitations should be for aged and infirm people, whom it would be hard upon, a severity they suppose the House of Commons did not intend. In the Proclamation there is a prudential power [reserved,] in six Lords of the Council, [to grant Licences,] otherwise those that stay would be in a worse condition than they that go. [Peers of the Realm,] aliens, and foreign merchants, the Lords conceived were not within that Law: The Lords thought fit to insert this, that they need not trouble themselves with it---The Chancellor had acquainted the Lords this morning, that he had Commissions ready for six counties, included within that circle of ten miles from London— Though the Lords thought these exceptions reasonable, yet the Chancellor withdrew to have the Commissions sealed according to the Proclamation; "and see now, Gentlemen, (the Lords said,) you have your desires."

Sir Trevor Williams.] I would have you declare, by Vote, that whoever has a hand in this Conspiracy may be declared a Traytor.

Sir Thomas Lee.] You need not declare by Vote what is Law already. I hope shortly you will see them brought to punishment as Traytors, the Plot being as clear as the sun that shines—I see by the Lords Conference, that the wheels need greasing and oiling. We could not get so much as Prayers from the Bishops, for the Fast-day, to make mention of the Plot and Popery: I would therefore remind the Lords of the Bill before them of excluding Members of both Houses that refuse the Test and Oaths, &c.

Colonel Birch.] We see disease upon disease, danger upon danger; if you cannot get that Bill, it is neither safe for the King nor Kingdom. This gives the Papists encouragement—I would let the Lords know, that, without that Bill, we cannot make one step in the safety of the King and Kingdom.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] If we have not this Bill, I know not what will become of us, should we be under the curse of a Popish Prince. I would therefore remind the Lords of it.

Mr Bennet.] If the Popish Lords be in the House, and the Duke be a Papist, we can do nothing without this Bill.

Colonel Titus.] Without this Bill we shall be like Physicians that make very learned discourses of the disease of the patient, but give no remedy, till the patient be past remedy. If all Papists cannot pretend that they have either Lawsuits to follow, or that they are so old, or so young, that they cannot go out of town, it is strange. Who are they that are gone? They are such as have no friends, and are mostly the inconsiderable part of them; but the considerable part of them are left behind: It is as if Coachman and Footmen were turned away for Papists, and yet they may have a Jesuit for their Steward.

Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas.

Unless this Bill pass, we can do nothing.

Sir Thomas Meres.] This Bill is to clear the fountain of Law, for our time, and to take from the King great men constantly at his ear to disturb him—We have as much right to our places in Parliament, without any Oaths and Test, as the Lords have—And we must be turned out if we are Papists, as we have done lately with two of our Members (Swale and Strickland.) I would willingly discourse this point a little with the Lords, and have our parchment Bill again at a Conference. Conferences cannot be secret. There will be standers by. This Bill went fairly on with the Lords till Friday last, and you know what we did that day—(Debate on the removal of the Duke of York.) I would have the Lords fairly and softly moved, to remind them of this Bill.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] This way of sending Messages to the Lords, and they to us, to remind one another of Bills, is not very ancient, yet has obtained upon us. You may add some quickening words in your Message in reciting the Bill, "upon which the safety of the King and Kingdom depends."

Serjeant Maynard.] In the great danger the King and Kingdom are, I wonder at the reason this Bill is retarded. The Popish Lords say, "it is their inheritance to sit in the Lords House without Oaths or Test, and what will become of the Peerage of the Lords if they suffer such a change?" But will they put any thing in balance with the safety of the King, Religion, and Government? No man can claim an inheritance, but by lawful marriage, and no lawful marriage but by a Priest. And how have we been married these hundred years? Estates and Honours must come by descent in legal matrimony, and that must be by the Bishop's Certificate, and that must be by Popish matrimony: I propound this only, for I do not know what changes may be heareafter, should Popery be settled amongst us.

The Lords were reminded of the Bill by a Message, [with the words annexed that were proposed above, by Sir Thomas Littleton.]

Tuesday, November 12.

A Motion being made to address the King to recall Sir William Godolphin from his Embassy in Spain, &c. as one accused of Treason,

Mr Secretary Coventry said,] Godolphin stays only to dispatch some business of the King's.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I would have the Address be, "That he be recalled to answer such crimes as are objected against him in relation to the Plot."

Sir Nicholas Carew.] That he should be still suffered to be in Spain is like all the rest, and I do not wonder at it.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] I think an Ambassador has the power of a Prince in his house where he is Ambassador, which may be of very ill consequence in this Gentleman.

Resolved, That an [humble] Address be [presented] to his Majesty, to desire that Sir William Godolphin, [his Majesty's Ambassador in Spain,] being accused of [High] Treason, may be called home to answer the accusation.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I cannot but observe, that some of the Kings houses are harbours for Papists. Those places are out of the jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace; therefore I would know, whether there are directions to the Officers of the King's family to give the Oaths there, that that place may be clear of them, as well as the poor shopkeepers sent out of town.

Colonel Titus.] As I hear, when the Bishop of London did procure a Protestant Church at St James's, it was objected against it, "that it was an inconvenience that great numbers of people should resort to any of the King's houses;" but Papists may, it seems. A Member of the House intended to go to church there, but, it seems, he was mistaken; he was in the wrong box, for he found upon the door, Pray for the souls of such and such departed this life! It was a Popish Chapel, and they were going to Mass.

Mr Miles Fleetwood.] Affirmed it.

Mr Powle.] You will never be free from Plots, till Whitehall be free from Papists. I would address the King, that the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy may be tendered to all persons within any of the King's Houses; unless to such persons (jeeringly) as are licensed by the Privy Council. By this means, you will, in a great measure, take off the aspersion of this being a State Plot.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] In the late King's time there was an Address made to the King, for removing all persons from the Queen's attendance, who were not Protestants.

Mr Williams.] In 3 James, and 35 Hen. VIII. (I find it not repealed) there is a particular Oath directed and prescribed by that Statute by special Commissioners to be tendered to all the King's family. They that refused it were executed for Traytors. It was Sir Thomas More's case—I move that Oath may be tendered them.

Sir William Coventry.] Concerning the giving the Oaths in the King's Houses, I know nothing of the present Articles of the Queen's Marriage, which have ever been kept in mists. When the Crown of Portugal, in the necessity they were in for us, married the Queen hither, I believe there were no greater Articles of Marriage in favour of the Popish servants, than we see in Mr Rushworth's Collections, when the Match was in treaty with Spain; and those Articles, when the late King married into France; and those Articles were for foreign Popish servants only, and no Articles about Popish servants are in being of longer date than the Marriage with the late Queen.—It is said, this Queen has but thirteen Popish servants. I have not heard of above that number; but as to the Plot of taking away the King's life, a less number than that may do that horrid thing.—If the King be murdered, will they make him alive again? But if the King be in such danger by the Papists, it is enough to cancell that obligation of Marriage.—This would be a condition, to create terror to the King. The very Law of Nature would make such conditions void, and I would not have you countenance it.

Sir Thomas Meres.] In the last Bill, about giving the Test and Oaths, &c. all the Queen's servants were to take it, except the Queen's Portugal servants. Articles of Marriage cannot bind against the Law of the land; and I would have it so.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] It is truly said by Coventry, "that such Articles are of no longer date than the late Queen's time." You will find, in those Articles, "that all the Queen's servants shall be French, and such as die shall be filled up as the King shall approve of them;" and the Articles relating to this Queen are the same—Do you think fit that the King should disallow the same servants that he has put in with his own approbation?

Sir William Coventry.] I had forgot, before Williamson put me in mind by saying, "these were the same Articles that were made in the late Queen's Marriage." The practice of those Articles was not the same as this is; for the French servants were sent away upon another account than these are; but there is much more reason for these; for this is a conspiracy against the King's life, and the sending away of those French servants then was not thought a breach of the Law of Nations.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to desire his Majesty, that a special Commission may be issued forth, for tendering the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to all the servants of his Majesty and his Royal Highness, and to all other persons (except her Majesty's Portugal servants) residing within his Majesty's Houses of Whitehall, Saint James's, and Somerset-House, and all other his Majesty's Houses.

Sir William Coventry.] There may be some doubt in the words "residing within his Majesty's Houses, &c."Something does occur to me which happened in Cromwell's time, when they searched for persons about a Plot, &c. At the House where I was searched for, they made a successful lie, by saying "that I lodged in the Inns of Court, and might be found there;" so by change of dress I saved myself: The Inns of Court were never generally searched, unless for some particular person; therefore I would have a Commission to give the Oaths to all those that have lodgings in the Inns of Court.

[This was also Ordered, in manner following: "And that there may likewise special Commissions be issued forth, for tendering the said Oaths to all persons residing within the two Serjeants-Inns, all the Inns of Court, and Inns of Chancery."]

Colonel Titus.] I was showed a Manacle, found in Somerset-House: I know not what use they are for; neither do I desire to try. (The Manacle was produced.)

Mr Sacheverell reports Mr Atkins's Examination, [taken in Newgate,] accused by Mr Bedlow of being one of those that had a hand in Sir Edmundbury Godfrey's murder.

Mr Sacheverell.] I must needs say thus much of him, that he is as ingenious a man to say nothing, as ever I heard. He says, "he was never in Somerset-House for some months before;" and knows not where Godfrey was on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

[Mr Secretary Williamson acquainted the House, that, in pursuance of the second Address of the House, touching a particular Prayer to be used on Wednesday, his Majesty had given order, that the Prayers should be altered.]

[Wednesday, November 13. Fast-day. Dr Stilling fleet, Dean of St Paul's, preached before the House.]


  • 1. See p. 170.
  • 2. This Letter is not inserted in the Journal.
  • 3. See p. 170.
  • 4. This William Bedlow had formerly been a servant to Lord Bellasis, afterwards an Ensign in Flanders. About Michaelmas 1674 he was sent for over by Harcourt, recommended by the English Abbess at Dunkirk, and so by degrees became acquainted with the Jesuits, and was at last generally employed as an Agent for them, and sent frequently with Letters into foreign parts. Hist. of the Plot, p. 127. Burnet says, "Bealow had led a very vicious life; he had gone by many false names, by which he had cheated many persons. He had gone over many parts of France and Spain, as a man of Quality, and he had made a shift to live on his wits, or rather by his cheats." p. 432. He was apprehended at Bristol, by his own desire, and brought to London, November 6, where a guard was immediately assigned him for his security, and a pension for his subsistence, with a lodging at Whitehall. Rapin.
  • 5. In regard to the murder of Godfrey, he swore before the two Secretaries (Nov. 7.) in presence of his Majesty, "That it was committed in Somerset-House, by Walsh and Le Phaire, Jesuits, and two laymen;" at the same time declaring also upon oath, "That he could say nothing at all as to the Plot that was then in question." But, on the very next day, being brought before the Lords, by the King's directions, to give the same account he had done the evening before to his Majesty, (that is to say, concerning the murder of Godfrey) he all at once made a transition to the Plot, and declared, "that two of the persons he had named as the murderers, viz. Walsh and Le Phaire, had informed him, that the Lord Bellasis had a Commission to command forces in the North, the Earl of Powis in South Wales, and that Lord Arundel of Wardour had a Commission to grant Commissions to whom he pleased; that Coleman was a great agitator in the designs against the King; that he asking them, "Why he had not been sooner let into the secret concerning the King's death,"—they answered, "None were permitted to know it, but such as Lord Bellasis nominated." Here he stopped short, desiring time to put his whole Narrative in writing, which he said he had begun. And being asked "if he knew Titus Oates?" answered in the negative, without any reservation. Ralph. His farther Deposition was reported to the House of Lords, from their Committee, by the Marquess of Winchester, Nov. 12.
  • 6. Then Ambassador in France, and afterwards Duke of Montagu. The reason of his getting into Parliament will appear hereafter.