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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Thursday, November 14.
A Message from his Majesty, delivered by Mr Secretary Williamson.
"His Majesty having considered of the Address of this House of the 12th inst. desiring 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; 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," his Majesty is pleased that this Answer be returned: That as to all his Majesty's own servants, all the servants of his Royal Highness, and all other persons residing in Whitehall, Saint James's, Somerset-House, or in any other of his Majesty's Palaces or Houses (except the menial servants of the Queen and of the Dutchess) as also all persons within either of the Serjeants Inns, or any of the Inns of Court or Chancery, his Majesty willingly grants it: But as to the Queen's menial servants (who are so very inconsiderable in number, and within the Articles of Marriage) his Majesty doth not think it fit: And his Majesty cannot but take notice, that, in a late Address from the House of Peers, for prohibiting all Papists to come to Court, the menial servants of the Queen and Dutchess were excepted: And his Majesty hopes this House will proceed with the same moderation as to that particular. Given at the Court at Whitehall, the 14th day of November, 1678."
[Mr Secretary Williamson added, That his Majesty had already ordered his Letters of Revocation of Sir William Godolphin, and that he had a person in his eye to succeed him.]
Sir William Coventry.] It is not an easy matter to pass over, that the Lords of the Council should give their consent to Articles of Marriage, against the Law of the Land. Universally the last Queen's servants were Protestants; but here is a point now that concerns the King's safety. It is said, "that the King's Popish servants are not above seventeen." Are not seventeen, or twelve, enough to do a mischief that seventeen hundred years cannot repair? They that have the keys of the King's lodgings, and access to his person, by their attendance, are they not enough to let in more? It is no security at all for the King, so it deserves your consideration. It is fit to appoint a time, a farther day, to consider of it.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I think that business must not at all keep cold; and therefore I am for a second Address to the King in this matter. There are a body of men at Somerset-House, that call themselves the King's servants, and are so many Priests. Therefore I move for a second Address, that they may all have the Oaths tendered them.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] There is a difference between the Queen's servants and the Dutchess's; one has them upon Articles of Marriage, the other not. But it is said, "this is a stipulation against Law, and therefore void." But it has been so ever since the Reformation. The late Queen's Marriage had that stipulation, and I never remember that it was excepted against in the height of the fears and jealousies of Popery in the Parliament of 1641. All the French servants, indeed, were turned away, but they were so partly by the Queen's consent, but with the King's consent superior. But one part of the demand of the King of France, in 1627, was about that matter. But where stipulations seem besides, or against the Law —one Article of the Marriage, in 1625, was, "that the Articles should be confirmed in Parliament." I offer, therefore, that this Marriage of the present Queen was a more favourable one, and a more honourable one, than any that has been formerly; for besides trade and the succession of the Crown of Portugal, if the Marriage had been blessed with children—The Portugal servants you in your judgments have passed by—She brought over Portugal servants, intending to establish her family of all Portugal servants—But the King sent them home; and it is wholly in the King that they are not all Portugal servants—The King's nature is so good, that you may imagine it will go near with him to deny this House any thing, and to put this hardship on the Queen, near the person of the King, to have no fort of number of Papists, it becomes you not to endeavour it—I humbly offer it, not to renew any Address of the nature moved for, the number being not near any matter of importance—I speak this as my place induces me, but much more as my reason induces me to it.
Sir George Hungerford.] I am sorry that this Answer from the King should give countenance to Popish Priests in the Duke's family. The misfortunes of the last King were much from a Popish Marriage; and I wonder it should be pressed as an instance.
Mr Powle.] The honourable person, (Williamson,) tells you, "That in all times since the Reformation, Articles have been the same about the Queens Marriages, &c." I rise to tell you, that he is mistaken. In Queen Elizabeth's Treaty with the Duke of Anjou, look upon those Articles in the Cabala, and Walsingham's Letters, and you will find another kind of restriction. There it was expressly provided, "that no English Papist should be servant, &c. and the Duke was to have no public chapel, and Mass only said in his private lodgings." Now to come up to the business before you; it is the judgment of the nation, that the Papists have broken through all your Laws, and planted themselves in his Majesty's Court, Council, Navy, and Army. Princes and all men are prevailed upon by those near them, and what opportunity they may have to attempt the worst of designs, any man may judge. Sit silent under this, and you confirm the world that we apprehend no Plot against the King—These Articles having reference to the French Articles; yet in them they have things expressly contrary—If we depart from this, the Lords may from our Bill, and therefore I move for a second Address, &c.
Mr Laurence Hyde.] I find a great difference of temper from what we had at the beginning of the Session. When this began, we had great regard to a good correspondence betwixt the two Houses. The King takes notice, in his Message, "That the Lords would exempt the Queen's and Dutchess's servants;" and it is some kind of Answer from the King. Now I hear it said, "If you do not this, you do nothing"—As to the Articles of Marriage, if the King approves not of Catholic servants, she is to have none. There is no obligation upon the King, but that of decency; and I hope you will not determine the thing, till you have maturely considered of it.
Mr Sacheverell.] All about the King, that are not Papists, methinks, should desire, that the servants of the Queen and Dutchess should have the Oaths tendered them, that they may not lie under the suspicion of giving Popish counsels. What if the Lords do not come up to us in this of the Queen's, and Dutchess's servants, do we not know who they are that oppose it? It is strange we must take measures from the Lords, when we know who sits there. This Message from the King about the Queen's, &c. servants, is from the same counsels still—Pray let us make this Address, or do nothing—If we are more tender of the Duke and the Queen than we are of the King, I believe there is something more feared than the danger of the King.
Mr Waller.] When the King intended to marry this Queen, the Infanta of Portugal, he did a very special thing; he consulted the Parliament about his Marriage. I never knew that was done before. If you now take away the English servants, the Queen will have the more Portugal servants; it may be, double the number.—I would take care hereafter, how we approve such Marriages in Parliament. There is no nation under Heaven, where Princes do marry with one of contrary Religion, but England.—I would leave this as it is for the present, and prevent such Marriages for the future.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] I acknowlege, that when a Law is established by the two Houses, &c. it cannot be abolished by the King; but as for banishing the Papists ten miles from Court, the King may dispense with that, and several other things. Now the Question is, whether the Portugal or the English servants are more dangerous to the person of the King. English are more proper, by relations and acquaintance, to carry on a Design.—This will be a hardship upon the Queen, who has above two thirds of her servants Protestants. She brought over all Portugal servants; but English were sworn into her service, to her great regret, before she came, and her Family placed by the King's Authority: And it was a great hardship upon her to have the Portugal servants removed. Let every man lay his hand upon his heart; could he bear this in his own Family? The Lords having excepted the Queen's servants, I leave it to you to consider whether you will not do the same.
Colonel Birch.] I would not stand up, but because you are moved to let fall the Debate, "because the Lords have agreed to the Queen's servants, &c."The business insisted upon is, Articles of Marriage, &c. From that fatal day that we approved the Marriage of the King with one of another Religion, there has been no true understanding betwixt the King and us;—there has been scarce Peace in the nation since. This is allowed in no nation but ours— Does that Gentleman say that those Articles of the Queen's Marriage were brought us hither to confirm? And you have heard what Articles Queen Elizabeth made when we were great—Is this a time to talk of Articles against Law? Are we now void of fears of the Papists? This business, I think, comes on purpose to invalidate our Bill now with the Lords. Pray give no countenance to this matter now. It does not appear that there is any merit in the Queen, to do this contrary to Law; and pray do not.
Sir William Coventry.] Since this is before us, I wonder at the argument from the littleness of the number of these servants, &c. and the quality of the persons. When there comes a thing before the Parliament against Law, Popery in the King's House, what will the common People think of us? That we are Papists too. We are told of "our approbation of the Portugal Match;" and we told the King "we would stand by him with our Lives and Fortunes, wherever he pleased to marry;" but that was not to have Papists in the Queen's Family and his own; we confirmed them not; it was against Spain, then an enemy to Portugal. A great man then told us, at a Conference, when it was communicated to us by the Lords, "that though the King had not married with a Protestant, yet it was with the only King that did not acknowlege the Pope." (For then the King of Portugal and the Pope were at variance about the King's authority in nominating Bishops.) It seems, they were not then so well agreed as now they are. Whether the Pope did not acknowlege the King of Portugal, or he the Pope, was a Question: But, upon this topic, the late Queen had but one Lady of the Bedchamber a Papist, and she not convicted neither. It was the Countess Rivers. Certainly, there was never such a thing thought of, as that Papists should be in the King's House, then. It is objected, "shall she not have English servants to lead her to Church?" She may have Portugal Priests. Surely she has not forgot her Father's language so soon, as not to understand them. Our case is come to this; the Party must be discountenanced, all the ways we can, by Law. I hear that, in this little time of discountenancing of Popery, people have returned from Popery, and been confirmed in our Church. Is this a time for us to shrink back? If there be a rough part in this business, it is fitter for us to act it than the King, and then it may seem small from him. The King is God's Vicegerent, and I would do as to him; when we think we are in the right, redouble our prayers; and I hope you will in this do so to the King.
Resolved, Nomine contradicente, That a farther Address be presented to his Majesty, for issuing forth of Commissions for tendering the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to the menial servants of the Queen and her Royal Highness.
Sir William Coventry.] We reminded the King of this in our Address, as Casus omissus. In our former Address, we went not by way of the Lords; but in a thing, now made of this consequence, I desire you would consider whether you will go by the Lords. I offer it only.
Sir Thomas Meres.] We see the danger of Papists being in the King's Family, farther than the Lords. They were overcome at a Conference, about issuing out the Commissions, &c. They granted the point. But we did not then see, that there were privileged places for Papists. This Address is only reforming an error of the first Address; and in that Address we went alone, without the Lords.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The King is a great and generous Prince, and has no fears about him; but we may have for him. The Duke is but a subject; and in the Bill of the Test, &c. the King's servants are not excepted. This is but Casus omissus in our Address, and but an explanation of our former Address, and this inserted in a Bill now depending with the Lords.
Mr Sacheverell.] I have letters from my own country, [Derbyshire] "that there are Papists that spread abroad Books, to persuade the people that there is no Plot." And since we have not heard from the Lords all this while, I move you to send to the Lords, to remind them of a Message we sent them about printing Coleman's Letters.
Sir William Coventry.] I hear that the Lords have made some progress in your Bill, &c. I would not therefore interrupt them now. I have reason to believe, that, when that Bill is passing, that of the Letters will have easy passage.
Sir Thomas Lee.] It is said, "this may interrupt our Bill, &c. The interruption would be little, but the thing great. It is a necessity that those Letters be printed, for uniting and awakening all the Protestants, now the Papists are sent into the country by the Proclamation—It will expedite that Bill—Passing that Bill will not give so great satisfaction, as printing those Letters.
Colonel Birch.] This Message will farther your Bill. Pass a Vote now, and send it up to-morrow, and I hope you will do this, and something else too.
[A Message was ordered accordingly.]
[Mr Bedlow was then called in, to give his farther information.]
Mr Bedlow at the Bar.] "What I can remember relating to the Plot, I will not conceal from the House. I do acquaint the House, that Father Conyers, Lord Bellasis's Confessor, said in my hearing, "that they only wanted opportunity of ships to surprize Jersey and Guernsey, by French men of war lying at Brest, and that Sir Francis Rateliffe was to surprize Tinmouth Castle." I confess that I have been a great rogue to the King, and my country, and if I had not been so, I could not have revealed what I have done. And I will not bring more matter to endanger myself, till I have the King's Pardon, because I have something to say against a great person near the King, and great things. The King has promised me his Pardon, as to Sir Edmundbury Godfrey's murder, for discovering what I know, and the Proclamation has pardoned me that; but for what I know farther, I desire my Pardon first, before I say any thing. I brought a Gentleman acquainted with a woman for his wife; and it was to insinuate myself into the acquaintance of the greatest gunpowder merchant in England, the better to carry on the design. I shall not conceal any thing, but humbly beg the House will intercede to the King for a general Pardon for me. He withdrew.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Some of the crimes of the Jesuits are so many, that they must have a general Pardon; they cannot else be safe.
Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] The Pardon for Mr Oates is at the Attorney General's Office, and will shortly be at my Office. A Pardon for a Jesuit must be general; they are criminal under so many Statutes.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] Bedlow tells you, "he has great matters to say, and of great persons, therefore he would have his Pardon, that he may reveal them, &c. for fear that great person he mentions should make him away before he can reveal the matters."
Ordered, That an Address be presented to his Majesty, for a general Pardon for Mr Bedlow.
Friday, November 15.
Sir Thomas Littleton reports the Answer to the King's Message, concerning the exemption of the Queen's servants from the Oaths; [which was agreed to by the House, as follows:]
"We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, having taken into consideration your Majesty's Message of the 14th instant, do humbly render our Thanks to your Majesty for graciously condescending so far to our desires, and willingly granting "that a special Commission be issued forth, for tendering the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to all your Majesty's own servants, all the servants of his Royal Highness, and all other persons residing in Whitehall, St. James's, Somerset-House, or any other of your Majesty's Palaces or Houses, except the menial servants of the Queen and the Dutchess; as also all persons within either of the Serjeants Inns, Inns of Court, or Inns of Chancery."
"As to the persons excepted in this your Majesty's Message, We, your Majesty's Commons, do humbly advise your Majesty, and renew our desires, that they may be comprehended in the said Commission; for which, we do, with all duty, lay before your Majesty the reasons following:
"1. For the quieting the minds of your Majesty's good Protestant subjects, who have a more than ordinary care and solliclude for the safety of your Majesty's person, by reason of the notorious conspiracies of the Popish party at this time, even against the life of your sacred Majesty.
"2. By your Majesty's Proclamation, set forth upon the Address of both Houses, for banishing Popish Recusants ten miles from London, there is no such restriction.
"3. The discouragement it would be to the whole kingdom, to see so great a neglect; and the occasions that Papists would take from thence to say (as they daily do) that all our fears are groundless.
"4. It is too great a countenance to this dangerous faction, who are already come to that height, that it renders all manner of discouragement, on that side, necessary.
"5. It is against the Laws and Statutes of the realm; which, as they are preserved and maintained by your Majesty's authority, so we assure ourselves, you will not suffer them to be violated in your own Family, and Royal Presence, and upon the account of Popish Recusants."
On Sir John Ernly's Motion "for a Proclamation to banish the Priests and Jesuits out of England."
Sir William Coventry.] Since the King came in, there was never such a Proclamation; and if there should be such a Proclamation for Priests and Jesuits to depart the land, they would not believe you in earnest, seeing it has not been already done; and if they be in England now, I believe them to be so great fools for staying, as not to be dangerous.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I'll put Ernly upon a more effectual way to be rid of them than the Proclamation. In Brecknock there was a Priest taken and pardoned. Let them hear of another convicted and executed, and that will send them away, and they will believe you are in earnest.
Saturday, November 16.
Mr Williams reports an Address to the King, for issuing out special Commissions of Oyer and Terminer for trying of several Priests and Jesuits now in custody, &c. See the Address at large in the Journal. (fn. 1)
Sir Job Charlton and Mr Johnson, two of the Justices on the Welch Circuit, were reflected on for not trying Priests and Je suits in custody in their Circuit [Lloyd and Mehaine. See the Note.]
Mr Johnson.] I was at that Assizes, sick; and I am credibly informed, that Sir Job Charlton did not so much as know of their being in custody. The case of the Priest is this: This Priest (Lloyd) at Ludlow, was pursued, and rode over half a dozen women and children. He was taken up and committed to prison, for want of sureties for his good behaviour. There was a Mass-book found about him, and the King's Attorney General for that Circuit thought that evidence so flight as not fit to indict him.
Mr Williams.] I will tell you what Sir Job Charlton knew of it. There was an Alderman of Denbigh that had the examination of this Priest, and he found upon him a writing, importing his Order that he had taken at Rome; the Alderman did acquaint Sir Job with his proceedings, and asked his advice. It was intimated by the Alderman again, and a Habeas Corpus was desired. The Alderman was frowned on by Sir Job, and he told him, "He was fit to be tryed in the Borough, and not in the County." And this I will prove to be true.
Sir William Coventry.] I speak to the matter of the Address. It is strange we cannot make complaint to the King that the Priest is not tryed, without hearing Sir Job Charlton first (as is moved.) If complaint be made to the King of another man, the King examines it; but this is of your Member, and you carry it to the King as if you had examined your Member. It is hard to do it, and not to hear him first. What reflects upon Sir Job, I move, may not be in the Address. I never remember him backward as to Popery, and I believe him a very good Protestant.
Sir Thomas Meres.] The Address is only about such a man, and he was not tryed. The word "wilfully" may be left out in the Address (by the Judges, &c.) but in fact it was not done. That you may address.
Colonel Titus.] I believe the character that is given of Sir Job, that he is a good Protestant; but so much credit is to be given to your Member (Williams) that the fact was done—Sir Job is a Gentleman of the Long Robe, and did desire to be in a better condition than he was; and as things were like to be, this is the way to rise, not to persecute that party.
Sir Trevor Williams.] Sir Job has a good place, and would be loth to part with it. There is not so much as a Clerk in his Circuit, but he is turned out, if he does his duty—I beseech you, pardon me for telling you so.
Sir Eliab Harvey.] I desire examples may be made in London as well as in the country. I desire that Colker, the nominal Bishop of London, now in Newgate, may be tryed, and that it be part of the Address, that a Commission of Oyer and Terminer may be, &c. for the City of London.
Sir Thomas Lee, upon Serjeant Streete's argument, &c.] I desire to know, whether the King cannot send out special Commissions of Oyer and Terminer?
Mr Williams.] In 26 and 34 Hen VIII. the Courts of the grand Sessions of Wales are made standing Courts and standing Justice, but, no doubt, the Law gave not the King that power; he might have done it before 26 Hen. VIII. I am abundantly satisfied that the King may try them by Commission of Oyer and Terminer, out of Session.
Serjeant Maynard.] There are no negative words in the Statute; the King might do it before the Statute, and may do it still: But tryal of them in an adjacent county, that may be a question—A Commission of Oyer and Terminer in England is a Commission at common Law, and if in England, why not in Wales? But to be tryed in an adjacent county, I doubt that.
Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] Boni judicis est exemplificare jurisdictionem suam. No man doubts but the King may grant a Commission of Oyer and Terminer, in and out of Assize-time and Terms of Wales. There was one Rice Thomas tryed in an adjacent county, at Hereford, and it was the opinion of all the Judges. I would address the King for a Commission of Oyer and Terminer, and no doubt but they that have the care of it will see that it be done according to Law.
[The Address was agreed to by the House.]
Sir Edward Dering.] We have made many Addresses to the King, and several Proclamations have been sent out; but when all is done, they have not the force nor countenance of a Law. It is now fourteen days since we voted, "that there was a Plot and Conspiracy of the Papists, &c." and the Lords promised their concurrence for remedies for preservation of the King's Person, &c. Nothing yet is done in it; nor is the King's Speech considered, though we sat upon an unusual day (Sunday.) Are we bolder than we were, or safer? I think not. The people will think of the danger, according as we apply remedies to it. I declare, if nothing be done this Session for the Protestant Religion, we have nothing remains but to make our graves, and lie down in them—I hope the means will be such as will rather import increase of your apprehensions than diminish them—I move, therefore, that you will not rise before you order a day to consider of some effectual remedy for the danger you are in.
Sir George Downing.] The King has not only given you leave to bring in a Bill for securing the Protestant Religion, &c. in the Succession, &c. but has provoked you to it particularly. You see what is done, and nobody convicted—First, the way of conviction is so difficult, and then, there is no execution of it. In Sweden, they have the effect of the Law of gelding Priests and Jesuits: They executed it upon the leaders, and have never been troubled with them since.
Sir Thomas Lee.] We have had Proclamation upon Proclamation for the forces to come out of France; and as long as French counsels prevailed, they came not over. At last they came, when the King had made us believe we should have War with France, and then they came at a time, when, perhaps, you had no mind of their company. It was about the time of the Plot.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] There is some remora as to our proceedings. The Attorney General is not yet instructed in the Indictments, &c. but till we have satisfaction of the Lords in that great Bill before them, I expect no better. Therefore I move that we may break form for once, and that the Speaker may go himself, with the whole House, to put the Lords in mind of that Bill—We shall never do good, till that fountain be uncorrupt.
Mr William Harbord.] I am surprized that we are meddling only with an Address to put the Laws in execution against Priests and Jesuits. It is not ten or twelve Priests to be hanged that will do our business; but I see the danger is so great, let every Gentleman lay his hand upon his heart—The danger is, as to our Lives, and Liberties, and Religion, and all we have dear to us in the world. I center my happiness on the preservation of the King's Person. I protest I never go to bed but I expect, the next morning, to hear of the King's being killed— There is nothing so necessary to you as the care of the King's Person. I have not the honour to see the King often, and I know not what care is taken of him—I would therefore appoint some time, this afternoon, to take that into consideration; especially when Staley, a Catholic, said yesterday, "That if nobody would kill the King, he would." The case being so, let us all express our loyalty —We are told, "That the Bill we sent up to the Lords, about the Oaths and the Test to Members, has not received that good usage as formerly, but is laid aside; and that a great many persons that pass for good Protestants oppose it with all their reason imaginable." This urges me to move you, that all persons that oppose these things may be removed from the King's Person and Councils— Let him be never so great, he is not too big to be removed—Pray sit this afternoon, and consider it.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] The safety of us all is in the King's Person, I agree; but I have wondered at one omission. In the Proclamation for discoverers of the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, there was a reward: Mr Oates came in voluntarily, and discovered the intention of the King's murder, without any condition of Pardon. As yet there has been no Proclamation of reward for discovery of that design—I cannot go along with Harbord, &c. for "removing from the King's Councils the obstructors of the Bill with the Lords." We are in great danger by the Plot, &c. but no man can bring us into greater danger, than to take notice of what is done in the House of Lords—If you vote that, you take notice of what is done there. It is the opinion of the House, that, when your Bill is returned, then you may take notice of the delay—If once we come to confound Privileges of Parliament, I know not what that will come to. I would rather sit long in the forenoon than adjourn to the afternoon—You have Committees depending, and I would have this matter considered another day.
Mr Bennet.] I will not enquire into the Lords actions, but when men of that House talk high (Lord Halifax) without doors, and within are for Popery; when a Minister of State shall plead for Popery; if he be not a Papist, that man is obliged to Papists for his being there—I have said always, and am still of the same mind, "that if the Duke be a Papist, you must come there and remove him." If that be hard, then tolerate Papists, and that is easy; and you may let the King's throat be cut by Irish Papists— Monday is appointed to consider of the Duke's removal from the King's Presence and Councils, &c. and till that day I will think of nothing else, and by it stand and fall.
Sir William Hickman.] Though we cannot take notice of what is done in the Lords House, yet we may say that the Bill goes not on. Therefore I would remind them of it.
Sir Thomas Lee.] When a pleuresy is in the case, a physician will not tell you how much blood he will take from his patient, but surely he will not take away all, but by little and little, not to kill him—Do this matter, in the Address to the Lords, by degrees.
Mr Waller.] I have my fears of the King's life, &c. and if any man be not afraid of it, I am afraid of him. The greatest fence about the King, is to order matters so as that the Papists shall be never the nearer in their design to settle Popery, if they should take away the King, by making unalterable Laws; and then you may have your ends—This is not the first time you have urged the Lords about dispatch of Bills. In Edward the sixth's time we had the Reformation carried on by the Seymours (the Speaker's family.) Queen Mary was devout in her way; but she would not return the Abbey-lands to the Fryars, though she did the Roman Religion. The Parliament then loved their Religion well, but their Lands better. By this Bill with the Lords, ipso facto a man loses his place in both Houses if he takes not the Oaths and Test. Take off one wheel, and the coach cannot go. If Queen Mary would not comply with the House of Commons, they would not comply with her— When the Powder-treason was, there were no Lords in the Plot, and so they had no Oaths given them (though some were imprisoned for misprision.) But there are Lords in this Plot now—The Lords say, "it is against their inheritance to be put out of the House, if they take not the Oaths." But the Commons have hitherto narrowed their inheritance, by taking the Oaths, &c. at the door, before we take our places, which the Lords did not. Have not the Lords parted with two thirds of their inheritance, in the Statute of conviction for Popery? In 1642 some Lords went away to the King at Oxford, and some stayed at Westminster, and both sat as the House of Lords, &c. but it is strange that some Lords should sit in the House by one Supremacy, and some by another—I would go in a body to remind the Lords of our Bill, but I would have you consider of Precedents for doing it.
Mr Bennet, on Mr Pepys's proffering to have the Navy considered.] If Pepys can give you an account how Popery came to be planted in the Navy, I would hear him willingly.
Mr Hampden.] This Bill is not only obstructed by the Papists, for there are not Popish Lords enough to obstruct it only. I move that the Speaker may go up to the Lords with the Mace, and tell the Lords, "that this House conceives this Bill to be of great importance, and desires their Lordships to dispatch it." The thing has been done before.
Sir William Coventry.] I like very well to quicken the Lords in passing this Bill. The apprehension is that you go a new way; and by the artifice that may be used that you go a new way, may create yet more delay in the Lords. As we hear what passes in the Lords House, they hear what passes in ours. I speak not to retard the business. Those who make use of artifices to retard the Bill now, will much more upon your doing a new thing, as this way of Message is.
Lord Cavendish.] The conspiracy against the King's Life, Religion, and the Government, is a new thing, and therefore no wonder new remedies are applied—I would tell the Lords, "that, till this Bill pass, they make an obstruction to the remedies for preservation of the Nation."
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I am much taken with our zeal for this Bill, but I would have Precedents for what we do. If there be none, it may be an obstruction to what you are about. I would give no just cause of offence to the Lords—If there be Precedents, I am for it; if not, I am against it.
Mr Powle.] I am as much for getting this Bill dispatched as any man, and there is nothing more proper to preserve the King's Person than the removing Papists from his Presence and Councils; but I am not much for this way. My reading and experience do not furnish me with much of this kind. Will you go to the Lords Bar bare-headed, as you do when the King is there? And consider whether it will be agreeable to your dignity to go, as a House, in a body. What is done at Conferences and Messages, is done only as Messengers of the House.
Sir Thomas Lee.] You are not yet prepared for Precedents in this thing. It is too low for you to go in a body, and that is a respect the Lords cannot quarrel at—At a Conference our Managers go bare; and that is the whole House that goes, and it is because the King is supposed to be there. There is no danger that the Lords will quarrel with you for giving them respect; but whether it will become your dignity to do it, pray consider. I believe there are precedents of doing it.
Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] I am little experienced in these proceedings, but I have conferred with ancient Members about them. As to the Message to the Lords, &c. all agree; but if carried in an unusual manner, the Lords will take exceptions. As we cannot but hear what they do, so they hear what we do. Therefore, when all is at stake, we know not how some stroke may be given. We are unanimous for going to the Lords; let some honourable Person carry the Message.
Mr Secretary Coventry carried the Message thus:
"The Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses in Parliament assembled, reflecting on the imminent dangers wherein the kingdom is involved, by the restless Conspiracies of Popish Recusants against his Majesty's Person, and the Religion and Government established, do find themselves necessitated to remind your Lordships for a speedy proceeding on the Bill before you, entitled, "An Act, &c." without which they think themselves unable to prepare any effectual remedies to prevent the evils that hang over us."