Debates in 1678: November (22nd-27th)

Pages 261-285

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

Friday, November 22.

Mr Powle reports the defect of Mr. Bedlow's Pardon (fn. 1).] The word "murdrum" is not mentioned in it. "Homicidium" is mentioned. The word "murdrum" has been formerly omitted [in?] Pardons, upon giving no countenance to "murder." There was one Richardy, mentioned in Judge Rolle's Reports, who was hanged twelve years after, for want of that word in his Pardon, for want of a Non obstante, &c. Mr Bedlow would have that word expressed in the Pardon; and if it be at your desire to the King, then no countenance will be given to "murder" to be ordinary in Pardons. I would send the Pardon to the Attorney General, that "murder" may be expressed, but not in general words.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] The Pardon having passed the Seal, it is not to be mended by the Attorney General. But Mr Bedlow may have a new Pardon. If you doubt the insufficiency of this Pardon, the King may grant another Warrant for one, and may let it be particular as to "murder;" for general words will not comprehend it.

Mr Williams.] I was with Mr Attorney General about this Pardon; who said, "it was a very advised and wary thing to pardon all murders; but for particular mens murders there are precedents, but very rare." "For feloniously killing," generally, it is a great question whether that Pardon will amount to "murder;" this of Mr Bedlow's being a pretty odd case. In the Laws of Rich. II. and Edw. III. it was a rare thing in an Act of Parliament to pardon "all murders." "For pardoning all murders," the Attorney said, "he should be shy in passing it; but for the felonious killing of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, it may be done." In the King's Pardon, read in the House, there was a mistake, "nolentes" for "volentes;" but it was agreed, that the Pardon was right in the Lords House. This new Pardon for Mr Bedlow may be sealed in the King's presence, and need have no other formalities.

Sir John Birkenhead.] One Lord killed another eleven years ago (fn. 2); who would not have "murdrum" put into his Pardon, "because," he said, "he was not guilty of it." "But," said his Counsel, "you may be pardoned for manslaughter, and hanged for murder." I would have Bedlow have a full Pardon, for he has told you he has been a great rogue.

The place of Mr Bedlow's abode, and his alias was omitted, viz. "Williams."

Resolved, That an Address be made to the King, [to desire] that Mr Bedlow may have his Pardon full as to the murdering of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey (fn. 3).

Debate on the King's last Speech.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] That the Papists may know that they shall not acquire any thing by the King's death; if the Laws are looked into that already are, you will find them as severe against Catholics as can be made, but they are not executed. I would therefore have such Laws made, that the King may not have any power to dispense with any penal Laws against Papists.

Sir George Hungerford.] I would know, if such Laws be made, who shall resist, if the King shall dispense with them?

Mr Sacheverell.] I take it, that this day the King's Speech is to be taken into consideration. I did expect of those Gentlemen who are so tender of moderation, that they would have told us how to secure the Protestant Religion upon the conditions in the King's Speech. First the Speech tells us, "we are not to change the right of Succession." Then I would gladly know, whether they would leap over that, or no; and not de bate it? Next, "The King will pass Bills for preservation of the Protestant Religion, &c. so that the descent of the Crown be not impeached in the true Line." Unless we leap over that condition, how can we make any association, as in Queen Elizabeth's time, &c.? Next, how can we secure Religion, or the just rights of any Protestant Successor, unless the King's power be restrained? And will you leap over that? I would know how they will leap over these conditions, and yet settle the Protestant Religion for the Succession?

Sir John Talbot.] We shall cease to be a Parliament, if Sacheverell uses the phrases of "those Gentlemen," and "they," &c. We would go on in a parliamentary way of proceeding, in a way of reason, a fair way.

Sir Thomas Meres.] In the first place, Sacheverell did speak in a parliamentary way, and a rhetorical style too. I will leave him, and go to Talbot, who corrected him for saying "they," and "those Gentlemen," and uses "we" himself. I love my time very well, and from our time I would have the Protestant Religion come to the next. Let us go into a Grand Committee, that we may not be bound up to speaking once only in the House; and I will offer my service in this matter with the rest. And though we cannot get all the security for the Protestant Religion, in the Succession, &c. yet let us have as much as we can get.

Mr Williams.] If we take it for granted for a position, and admit that you must have a Popish Prince in the succession, then you need not leave the Chair, and go into a Committee. But if you will go upon the main, that is, the danger of the Protestant Religion in a Popish Succession, then we go into a Committee. It is not the Papists that can bring in Popery, but Protestants that favour it. And another way is to make easy Laws, that will signify nothing.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] If you go generally into a Committee "to consider the King's Speech," you are bound hand and foot, and can debate nothing else. But if you say generally, "to consider remedies to preserve the Protestant Religion, and suppress the growth of Popery," you may do something to the purpose.

Sir Thomas Lee.] We cannot be bound by the King's Speech, in making of our Laws.

Mr Sacheverell.] I would know whether we may speak against an established Law, before we go into a Grand Committee.

Sir Richard Temple.] It is an inherent Privilege in any Member, that, with leave, he may speak to the repealing any Law. And I would have it an Order to the Committee, to give their Opinion in repealing any Laws in being.

In a Grand Committee.

The Speaker.] It is the highest step that can be taken, and in no part of the world to be precedented, that Lords should sit in the Lords House to extenuate their crimes, or at least to improve them. I am now free from those apprehensions, by the Bill, &c. The Popish Lords are driven out of the House, and the Court too. It is not the consideration of one single person, how great soever he be, in that House, that can stand in balance with the Nation. I say, it is not the influence of one person amongst them, that can be to the prejudice of your affairs, or can create a disturbance to the Laws. But there remains something to be done that you have not done. Things are carried on at Court by the solicitation of persons; I mean, foreign Ministers. I wish, that a Representation may be made to the King, of the too familiar access that foreign Ministers have to him. They come to Court rather like private sollicitors than Ambassadors; and the nation suffers more by their private Conferences, than their public Addresses. Having gone so far, the next thing I shall present to your consideration is, that those who have had a hand in the Plot, may meet with the severest judgment; though not within the secret circumstances in that case where two witnesses are required. Where there are not two witnesses, I would make no scruple to hang them with one. Though possibly they are not all equally guilty, yet they have had some commission to carry on the Plot. Therefore, for the more easy conviction of Catholics, the King has given charge to the Judges in their Circuits, and at Westminster, about it, and they have done their part, but yet scarce two of quality have been convicted. Their Interest and their purse have saved them. Therefore I propose, that they may be convicted by Act of Parliament; that the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses return the names of all Papists, and reputed Papists; and that they may have time to come in to take the Oaths: And then you trust not to others to convict them, but do it yourselves—Now having said what I would do, I will present you with my thoughts on what I would not do. First, I would not disturb the right Line, nor impeach the Succession. It is not your interest to make the Heir of the Crown desperate, for you will endanger to entail a War on Posterity, &c. whenever you disturb that. I will say little to making the Heir of the Crown desperate. I would not furnish those men with arguments in their mouths, that will be apt to improve them, &c. I shall only say, that he is much more safe in the eye of his Prince, than absent, &c. I would not have any Popish Prince be left in a condition to wound or disturb the Protestant Religion. I would not scruple to take from him dependences in Church or State, and power to dispose of the public Revenue or the Militia. I would not scruple to make a Law, "That, upon the demise of the King, the Parliament then sitting, or, if there be none, that the last Parliament shall meet again, and continue for a time certain." This, in a great measure, will provide for your security. But if Gentlemen would carry it farther, it will neither be secure for the present, nor the future.

Mr Powle.] Some that talk loud, without doors, for the Protestant Religion, give pernicious counsels within doors. In Coleman's Declaration and Letters, they are "for the utter extirpation of Heresy," that is, in their sense, the Protestant Religion. Since the King's Restoration, the King has been free, till the last summer, as to any Plots against his person. But why now? Certainly those Jesuits have made an unhappy choice of a time for us, and happy for themselves. They will not stick at any man's blood whatsoever, to promote the Catholic interest. But why is the time ripe now for the stroke? This conspiracy has been working many years past; and this has scarce got credit in this very House of Commons. Laws most sacred are of no effect; they are violated in the face of the House. An Act was made to put Popery out of the Army, &c. and yet a great number of Officers are brought into it; and there is no discovery from whence that contrivance came. There was an Act also for disbanding the Army; and yet no Army is disbanded, and you are told that it is unavoidable. And can this pass away in silence; and can we think, at this rate, that there is more security in a Law, than in a piece of parchment? I think it is designed we shall have a standing Army, and I think there is good occasion to insinuate it, &c. There are no hopes in an Act of Parliament. The Papists may say to the Army, "Join with us, and we'll join with you;" and there must be the original of this same Plot, and till you be free yourselves from the Army—there is the source of the Plot. It is not easy for the Prince to alter the Government, without force. Lewis the eleventh of France had been seven years abroad, by reason of his falling out with his Ministers. When he came home to the Crown, he turned all the Officers of the Crown out; but there followed a great war and disturbance upon it. So he advised his son, when he came to the Crown; never suddenly to change his Ministers, by his experience, they having all the secret of the management of affairs—This Plot has been going on ever since the King came in, and so the Papists have continued designing. But where will you lay this? On the King? It must lie somewhere. The Speaker spoke of "the familiarity of foreign Ministers with the King." But this must be by home Ministers. Your first business is to reduce the present Government into such order under the present Prince, as may settle the Protestant Religion and the Ministry on good foundations.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] We have had two Bills of Popery before us; that yesterday, and the long Bill of Popery. It contains, amongst other things, "the better conviction of Priests and Jesuits, &c. and that the forfeitures of Papists convict shall go to the buying in of impropriations, &c."—And now the Committee will puzzle itself with this Bill (it being moved for by some.) If you will have a new Bill, I never heard yet of the necessary heads for it. The shortest way will be to go upon that Bill of Conviction, &c. and if any Gentleman hath any other foreign matter, or any new thing to present the Committee, not in that Bill, then it is proper for the Committee to proceed upon it.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Consider the time of the year, and the time you have to do the thing in, and that there will be a thin House, &c. and then money will be put upon you; and what money will do, if the consequence be a great deal of money, or a great revenue? And so you will be where you were. If there be any new thing to be added to that Bill, let it be offered to the Committee. But if, as Seymour said, you have a new King with no power, you will run into all the miseries imaginable.

Sir William Coventry.] The danger is great, and therefore I would not have you delay your remedies. You must begin, in the time of a Protestant King, to provide against a Popish one. Though I have nothing to say for taking up the old Bill, yet I have nothing to say against it. If that Bill have any good in it, you may take it up; if not, reject it, or model it. I am of opinion, that it will be the easier way to have the better discovery of Priests and Jesuits, and conviction of Papists, to be in one Bill.

The Speaker.] I am not for disturbing tender consciences; but when they will disturb the Government, it is time to disturb them. Therefore I would have the Knights, Citizens, &c. return the names of Papists, or suspected Papists, &c. and by a day, that the Oaths, &c. be tendered them, or else to stand convict by Act of Parliament.

[Resolved, That a Bill be prepared for the more easy Conviction of Papists.]

Heads of the Bill: " A list to be brought in of their names, &c. Conviction to refuse the Oaths and the Test, &c. The Penalties, &c. for buying in of Impropriations, and augmenting poor Vicarages; and encouragement for discovery of fraudulent conveyances; and some part of the Penalty for breeding the children Protestants. Those who come not in, and conceal themselves, to forseit four fifths of their Estates."

Saturday, November 23.

[A Bill for raising the Militia of England, was read the first time, and ordered to be read a second time.]

Complaint was made of soldiers that threaten to take up quarters in houses, unless they compound with them for money (fn. 4).

Sir Charles Wheeler.] I sent into the country to take away a halberd from one of my serjeants, and cloaths from the soldiers that did it; and I delivered them to a Justice of Peace, to be dealt with as rebels and rogues. I took the Commission-Officer's Commission from him, and I caused the money he took for quarters to be returned, and Aylesbury and Bedford will give any testimony of my soldiers good behaviour.

Mr Sacheverell.] I wonder that any Gentleman should press a question for money to disband these men. There is no Army; shall we go and give money to disband people that stood, in contempt of an Act of Parliament, against Law? I scorn to give them a penny.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] Would you please to have the question for money to disband several thousands of rioters? They are "rioters" in Law, for they are disbanded already by Law, and I will not call them "an Army."

Sir William Coventry.] I am surprized to hear these men called "an Army." Surely, if the English language is not altered, the language of the House is altered. The word "Army" is too good for them. When we hoped we should have had a French War, then they had another name. But because they are not disbanded, that they are "rioters," I am loth to say that; they have the King's Commission, and why should we criticise upon them, and not agree upon terms? The end of us all is to be rid of them. It is an Army, and if they be not disbanded, I fear we shall find them an Army. Therefore I would unanimously consider how to be rid of them.

Mr Sacheverell.] If you will take into consideration the dispersing these soldiers, disbanded by Law, I shall consent to it. Else I shall not agree to it.

Sir John Talbot.] I am under a great disturbance, when reflection is made upon my fellow-subjects, who have as good English hearts as any men whatsoever. When, by the King's Commission, these men have been taken into employment, and have been sent abroad at great expence to their fortunes, for the service of the nation, to be arraigned here for men neither of honour, fortune, nor religion,—this is not to be borne without doors amongst Gentlemen! The King, for weighty reasons of State, has thought fit to continue them to this time. What! must I throw up my Commission? I have been on my own credit, for quarters for my regiment—Disband them as soon as you will, but let them not go off with reproach, to be arraigned here for "rioters," and not to consider that the discharging them is very severe. I never asked any employment, nor care I for military command. I had rather command in the Militia than in the Army; but let us not be censured like rascals here, but like men of honour. I would be discharged of my Commission fairly and honestly.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I care not much for the Question. I wonder that the Gentleman should take so much exceptions at what has been said. I have heard the Act spoken of for disbanding these men. I know not how Gentlemen do think we shall be rid of them, when an Act of Parliament cannot do it. I think we shall hardly do it, when it has been paid for once before. I would have the Gentleman (Talbot) show us, how an Army shall be disbanded, for the future, when an Act of Parliament will not do it.

Mr Bennet.] I am doubtful whether an Act of Parliament will disband these men, or no; and we can go no farther than an Act of Parliament. How these men are in the eye of the Law, when disbanded by Act of Parliament, let the Lawyers tell you. Therefore I will make you a Motion, That, at the same time you consider of the paying off and disbanding these men, you likewise consider, how far criminal it is to raise contributions upon the country contrary to Law. I think it High Treason.

[Resolved, That this House will, on Monday morning, take into consideration the state of the Nation, in relation to the Army.]

A Message was delivered from the Lords to desire a present Conference, &c. concerning the Address [sent from this House] for raising the Militia, &c. The Messengers, by an omission, named no place; but the mistake was passed over (fn. 5).

Mr Powle reports the Conference: "That the Lords, upon inspection of the Laws of the Militia, do find, that the Militia cannot be kept in muster above twelve days, &c. in one year, without the King's direction. But there is no power, &c. to raise any money to maintain them. This they thought fit to acquaint the House with, before their Lordships proceed any farther."


Sir Thomas Meres.] I said before, "that this Address would not do without a Bill," and that Bill may be as soon dispatched as an Address, &c. The Bill will be but half a sheet of paper, and the Lords will make quick dispatch of it. I see there is no authority for fourteen days, unless the King pay them.

Sir John Ernly.] As to exercise, the Militia is not to be kept together above twelve days. But for a present satisfaction to the nation, you may have a Bill, &c. and may have effects of your desires by Act of Parliament.

Mr Powle.] It is the desire of all Gentlemen to have the Militia in a posture suddenly for the danger we apprehend. There is power already for one general muster, and four particular ones, &c. And there is farther power, in the Act, to call the Militia together, when the King will, but at his own charge. If you give intimation to the Lords, that you will pay the Militia for the extraordinary days, by Bill, probably the Lords will agree to it; and your business is done.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I am afraid that, if you go to the Lords, and assure them any thing about money, they may put their hands into your purses, and remind you of giving money. I would have you break so much Order, as to read the Bill once this morning, and sit in the afternoon, and pass it.

The Speaker.] That is against all Order. You will break a most essential Order of the House, if you do so.

Sir Robert Howard.] I would, upon such an emergency as this, bow a Law, but not break it. But the best way is by Bill.

Mr Secretary Coventry delivers a Message from the King [in answer to the Address of this House, concerning Mr Secretary Williamson] to this effect: "That several hours before his Majesty had received the Address, &c. his Majesty had caused Mr Secretary Williamson to be discharged from his imprisonment, as he told you, in the Banquetting-house, he would do. And as to the Commissions, &c. he told them the reasons why he granted them. But that his Majesty would recall them and, what other Commissions, &c. were given out. And he would take care, for the future, that none should be given [to Papists, or reputed Papists,] either in England or Ireland."

Sir Thomas Lee.] I would have it understood, that the matter about his Majesty's releasing Williamson is entirely before you still.

Sir Edward Dering reports from the Committee, the following Reasons for not agreeing to the Lords Amendments in the Bill for the Oaths and the Test to Members of both Houses: "That the number of the Queen's servants, &c. is inconsistent with such a Declaration in the Bill, "That none, that take not the Oaths, should come near the King's Person." And not reasonable to admit them now, because of the Plot, &c. If Papists by the Proclamation are banished ten miles from London, it is not adviseable they should be permitted in the King's House, more than any where else. And such a number of servants being exempted from the Oaths, they may then sit in the House of Lords, or House of Commons, without Test or Oaths. And that so many servants, not exempted in this Act, exclusive to the whole Members of either House, may be nominated to be the Queen's servants."

These Reasons were sent up to the Conference.

Resolved, That a List of all persons of note, being Papists, or reputed Papists, resident, or having a considerable estate, within their respective Counties, be brought in, on Tuesday come sevennight, by the Knights of the Shire: And that all the Members of the respective counties do meet together and agree, and prepare such Lists, [and sign the same.]

Sir Edward Dering reports the Conference from the Lords: "The Lords did agree that our Reasons were weighty, not to give any countenance to tolerate Popery in the King's Houses. They proposed an expedient, to leave the Queen wholly out of the Bill, and to leave out the Proviso for the Queen's Portugal servants. They did but propose it; and would leave it to our farther consideration. If we agreed not to this expedient, then they would think farther of the numbers and sexes of the Queen's servants. If we agreed with them, then the Bill was passed."

The Speaker.] This way that the Lords have taken, is unusual. I remember but one precedent, that Amendments of our Amendments have been offered at a Conference. This is proposed from the Lords as an expedient. Now the Question is, whether you'll agree to it.

Sir Thomas Meres.] The Lords were very ingenuous with us. Authoritatively, they said, "there were precedents for what they did," but named none. They have said the same thing over again. In the last Act of Popery, &c. they told us, "the Queen's Popish servants were but few, and would die off." And many other civil things they said; but, under that, they give colour to Papists to come to Court. The Court is as necessary to be kept clear from Popery, as both Houses of Parliament. But if you clear but in part, you will never be rid of Popery. If it be not necessary in Court as well as in Parliament, then you may agree with the Lords. But I think not.

Sir William Coventry.] The Lord Privy Seal said it with a pretty kind of caution. He did not affirm precedents, &c. but said, "sometimes both Houses of Parliament had accepted of expedients."

Sir Thomas Littleton.] The scope of the Bill is, that Papists should not be in Parliament nor Court. As to the matter of the Bill, it has not the nature of an Expedient; it is somewhat less than was proposed before to accommodate the thing. Before, it was twelve, and nine, and now the Queen may have twelve hundred, as the Bill will be.

The Speaker.] There is no such Expedient as to leave out any part of the Bill. And now the Lords propose another Amendment, and so we shall never know when we are at an end of Amendments. Nothing was ever like this.

Mr Powle.] I confess, for my part, I do not know what the Lords mean by this Expedient. The Queen is in the whole Bill—The Queen herself must go—The Queen is a Peer, and must be tryed by her Peers. I would send to the Lords, to know, whether they intend, by this Expedient, that the Queen should be turned out of the Court herself.

[Resolved, That this House doth not agree with the Lords in the said Expedient. And Reasons were ordered to be prepared, to be offered at a Conference.]

Monday, November 25.

The King spoke to both Houses to this effect, reported by the Speaker: "That he had greatly obliged the Spaniards by keeping his forces in Flanders, which, they acknowleged, had been saved by his interposition—That he had been forced to employ the money granted for disbanding the forces in Flanders in keeping them there, and is out of purse more money, &c.---That the interest and honour of the nation had been improved by it, but that he cannot support the expence any longer---That the forces in Flanders are exposed to the utmost want and misery, being without any prospect of farther pay or subsistence---But that he is importuned by the Spanish Ministers to let them stay in Flanders a little longer, without which all will be lost, &c. And that between their importunity, and his own inability, he finds himself in great difficulties, and so desires a Supply for disbanding them without delay."

[The Bill for raising the Militia was read the second time.]

Sir Edward Dering reports the Reasons given by the Commons why they could not agree with the Expedient proposed by the Lords, to leave out the Queen's servants entirely.

"That it is contrary to the constant Method and Proceedings in Parliament, to strike out any thing in a Bill which hath been fully agreed and passed by both Houses; and it would make the work endless, and might be of dangerous consequence, if that Method should be deserted and changed.

"In the Amendment proposed to the Bill by your Lordships, to which the Commons have disagreed, the number of the Queen's servants, to be excepted out of the Act, was limited; but, by leaving the Queen's name out of the Bill, she may have them without number. So that what is now offered, is worse than what the Commons have already disagreed to; and, consequently, hath not the nature of an Expedient.

"That, by experience, it is found, that the Act, entitled, "An Act for preventing dangers [which may happen] from Popish Recusants," proved ineffectual to remove Papists from Court, by reason there was no express mention of the Queen's servants.

"The scope of the Bill relates not only to removing Papists out of both Houses of Parliament, but also from the Court, as appears both by the Preamble and Body of the Bill: And the danger of his Majesty may [reasonably] be supposed to be chiefly in his Court: And the safety of his Person, the Commons think, ought [more] to be considered than any respects to any person whatsoever."

[This was agreed to by the House, and a Conference was desired.]

Tuesday, November 26.

[The Bill for raising the Militia passed.]

Debate on Mr Bedlow's Pardon, which he desired for concealing Treason one day.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] It is of dangerous consequence to put Bedlow upon saying all he can of the Plot. The prosecution of the Plotters has been slow, and that has discouraged him. The Lords that are committed to the Tower, meet and rally upon their commitment. Mr Oates's father is at the door. He spoke with me, and I was surprized when he told me that his son was now a prisoner, and he is to give evidence to-morrow against Mr Coleman, and must trust to his memory, his papers being all seized. This is a great discouragement to him. Mr Bedlow tells you, "he is guilty of Misprision of Treason if he reveals not what he knows within such a time;" his evidence he is to give being since he had his Pardon; and he fears his evidence will make him more enemies, and he has a great many already, for what he has said. I know not what to move; whether the Lord Chief Justice should examine him; for his examination will be no secret amongst us.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] It was ordered in Council, that Mr Oates should have his liberty.

Sir Thomas Lee.] When Mr Oates went to see his son, it was so, he was a prisoner; but now Coventry tells you it is otherwise.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] It has been moved, "that the Lord Chief Justice may take Bedlow's examination, and that Bedlow may give his information at the Bar"—All have their inconveniences, but the last has the least. It is Bedlow's own desire, and I incline to that.

Sir William Coventry.] You will not give Bedlow assurance of his Pardon, till the King has assured us he will give it. If you urge him to declare what he knows, before his Pardon is obtained, you will be the instruments to bring him to the gallows. Therefore pray consider that.

Mr Powle.] Bedlow desired his Pardon, only for concealing some farther Treason, which is only Misprision of Treason, which does not extend to life. The King having pardoned him Treason, we may be sure he will pardon him Misprision of Treason, on your intercession. I think it is most advisable to have him declare the bottom of what he knows, which every man, I believe, desires.

Serjeant Maynard.] I cannot speak to what I know not, for I never saw his Pardon.

Mr Powle.] His Pardon is to the first of November; so that if any Treasons, or Misprisions of Treason, have been committed since, he thinks himself out of the Pardon.

Colonel Birch.] I am one of those that are at a little stand at what Sir William Coventry has said. I move, therefore, that one of the Secretaries may go to the King for a Pardon for Bedlow, from the first of November. If any man is afraid of his throat for three days, let it be to-morrow.

The Speaker.] I shall ask Bedlow what he has farther to say concerning the Plot, but not as to the circumstances of the Plot.

Sir Charles Harbord.] I would leave him to his own discretion, and hear him what he will say; and then consider what to do farther.

Mr Powle.] For Mr Bedlow's own sake, I would not have his Pardon to be for a day to come. I make a question whether that Pardon be good in Law.

Sir John Trevor.] I move, that, in the Address to the King for Mr Bedlow's Pardon, the words "inclusive to this day" may be in.

[This was voted.]

Mr Secretary Coventry being sent to the King with the Address for Mr Bedlow's Pardon, [as above,] brings this Answer: "That the King will consider of it, [and return an Answer."]

Mr Williams.] 'The King's Answer to our Address is as to Acts of Parliament, which is, in effect, a denial.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I see you have no Answer now from the King. I would therefore now adjourn. To-morrow, it may be, by this time, you may have an Answer.

Mr Hampden.] It may be, Bedlow may give some evidence as to Mr Coleman, who is to be tryed to-morrow. I move, that Bedlow may be sent for in, and that you tell him what Answer the King has made to your Address for his Pardon; and that you will not put him upon farther declaring what he knows of the Plot, till he has his Pardon.

Sir Edmund Jennings.] It may be, you may have an Answer from the King, within an hour or two; and in the mean time you may go on to other business.

Mr Finch.] I am for calling in Bedlow. I cannot scruple that the King will not pardon him Misprision of Treason, when he has pardoned him Treason. Bedlow confesses, he has farther Treason to discover than he has already told you. And if he does tell you any thing farther, he is in much better condition for your intercession.

The Speaker.] Bedlow does not say "he has Treason (to discover," but "matters of great importance."

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I would not call him in at present; for the King having taken time to consider of his Pardon, Bedlow will do so too; and I move that we may adjourn to three o' clock in the Afternoon.

The House adjourned accordingly.

In the Afternoon.

Sir Gilbert Gerrard.] Now we are in the midst of dangers of the King's life, I have heard of great resort of Papists into this town, notwithstanding the King's Proclamation, &c. I move that all the inns in the city and suburbs may be searched, that we may know what horses are there, what numbers, and to whom they belong.

Sir Edmund Jennings.] What is observed by Gerrard is very true. I move that there may be a new Order to the Constables to repair to all lodgings, to know who they are, and how long they have lodged there; and to give an account of it de die in diem.

Mr Williams.] I would have things done legally, and, before you do any thing else, I would do what you can by Law; but this you cannot do.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I observe, that, when we adjourn to the Afternoon, for special business, no other business is done or entertained. I would not adjourn yet, but sit some time for the King's Answer. But do nothing else.

Mr Secretary Coventry brought the King's Answer, to this effect: "That the King had considered the Address about Bedlow's Pardon, and returns this Answer (read by the Speaker) "That Mr Bedlow's Pardon to the first of November is as full to all Offences as can be desired: If any Offence hath been committed since that time, his Majesty ought to know it before he pardons it; for a Pardon for an Offence to come (as a Pardon for a whole day inclusively amounts to, when it is granted before the day is expired) will not be good in Law."

Wednesday, November 27.

Mr Sacheverell.] I move, that, before you proceed to the consideration of disbanding the Army, you will declare them "to be together against Law."

Sir William Coventry.] I would willingly disband the Army, before we tell them of their faults.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] This is not told to the Army, but to others that have been the occasion of keeping them together, after the Act for disbanding them. I would proceed first upon Sacheverell's Motion, to declare "that they are kept together against Law."

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The thing before you is of great weight. When the King makes Proposals to you, you are not to make a Vote to make them impossible. There is great latitude in the Prerogative, but still it is to be used for the good of the people. When you made the Vote for disbanding the Army, it was clear Peace; but since, the King of France went back, and the Hollanders went back too, from the Treaty. When the King of France saw that the Hollanders would break the Treaty, then he agreed to the evacuation of places, but would have Sweden comprehended in the Treaty. Had you not kept up the Forces, you must have been put to a double charge in raising them again. And what is left the Spaniard in Flanders was by the help of the King's Forces, &c. What the King proposes, ought to be taken into consideration. The Treaty is not yet signed.

Mr Powle.] This Honourable Person has told you, "That if the King's Prerogative be well used, we have no cause to find fault." I know not what he means; but I am confident, if we had not had this Army, we had not had this Plot. I would gladly know whether ever these reasons for keeping up the Army, he tells you here, were brought to the Privy Council, and there allowed? But if done from the Private Council, all your mischief is from thence. He seems to make the keeping these men up, and our payment of them with the money we gave to disband them, a kindness to us. If he please to tell us who we have that obligation to (the Private Council) I would gladly thank them for it.

Sir John Ernly.] Powle says, "he would gladly know who advised this, &c." I advised it not. I am sure, had the King of France come on, and we sent no supplies into Flanders, he had been in actual possession of all Flanders. It is said, "that the Army was the occasion of the Plot." But by Coleman's Letters, it began in 1674, 75, and 76; and that's a farther time than the raising of the Army. Set three Colonels aside, that are Papists, and I know no Army more Protestant. I know who is the General, and there are very few Popish Officers. Of 25,000 men, there are not two hundred suspected Papists. If they conceal it, they swallow the Oaths and the Test. This is a great brand upon them, to say, "they are the cause of bringing on this Plot." I think there is no present use of them, and therefore I would now consider that they are Gentlemen, and have laid out their money to serve their Prince, &c. I would not lay a discouragement upon them. If you pass a Vote, "That they are a Grievance to the Nation," pray consider how to disband them, and pay them off.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] As you consider how they were raised, by Vote of this House; so consider how you were induced to it, by fine words. I will not say what else here. I will not say, this Army was raised for this Plot; but the more loyal this Army is, the more surely they might take away the King's life, and place the Crown on his Successor. This Plot is for a loyal Army, and for setting the Crown where it ought to be; and I would have done so too, had I been one of them.

Mr Williams.] We should be incircumspect to fall into the same trap twice. You have been moved for a Vote, "That this Army is illegal, and a Grievance to the Kingdom." A force of men, kept up against an Act of Parliament, is illegal; and no man justifies the illegality of it. In the next place, whether it is a Grievance, or no? By Secretary Coventry's arguments, "it is by Prerogative against Law, but well employed." Here are ten thousand in arms; too many for us five hundred of the Parliament here. Therefore I cannot say, "it is Prerogative well employed." Another says, "that many worthy men are in it, and we should not give them discouragement." But is that a reason? It was a great part of the cunning to put this Army into Protestant hands—But the Officers may be changed, and Popish Officers put in their places. I look upon the Army as a sham upon the people. I do not hear these regiments had any Chaplains with them; but I hear of Popish books amongst them. You may scatter them by an Act, &c. but you cannot disband them more than they are by Law already. I would give the King a Clause of Credit in a Bill, against you come again; but I would have them disbanded first.

Colonel Titus.] A strange circumstance attended this Army. It was raised for an actual War with France; and this Army has made an actual Peace. Other Armies are a terror to their enemies; this to their friends. There is an end of an Army when disbanded; but this is continued after disbanding. You have been told of the advantages we have had by this Army; yet I would part with them; and so, I believe in my conscience, would every Member of the House. The presence was fair that they were raised for, a War with France. And though they had no occasion of serving you, yet I believe they would have served you. To use them hardly, therefore, is not morality; therefore I would use them fairly. It is true, the Plot was more ancient than the Army. And though the Army was younger than the Plot, pray God it be not part of the Plot! In Peace, there is nothing for an Army to subdue, but Magna Charta. Justices of Peace and Constables are more requisite now than Captains and Colonels; at present not necessary. But before we enquire why this Army was not disbanded, according to Law, I would first disband them. Enquire how we got the disease, but get a remedy for it first. I move you, therefore, first to vote "that this Army be disbanded."

Sir Henry Capel.] I would make some profit of this Army, that has cost us so much. Men that have been brought up in a company would have it so here. The people have taken English Oaths, and have English Estates. I find there has been force in England formerly, &c. and Acts of Parliament have been made, from Richard II's time to Henry VI. against forces in arms, to the terror of the people. Henry VII. was a shrewd man. He took care that the Crown should not be supported by force. 3 Hen. VII. the Statute against Retainers, "that nothing should look like force and terror." Though this Army is very worthy and loyal—Do you think that in my Lord of Essex's Army, in 1642, when Cromwell was but a Captain, any man could imagine that ever he should have been General, and have usurped three Kingdoms? No man knows the end of these things. We may have Popery encouraged by an Army, things coming by degrees upon us. I would have no Army at home but the Militia, and all other thoughts of an Army laid aside. We know that the great men about the King are to remind him of his Laws. Great men should have reminded the King of this Army, kept up against Law. There is another thing of great importance; the great men should recommend the Nobility and Gentry to Places of Trust, &c. and represent to the King, that he cannot have the purses of his people, unless he have their hearts; and how dutiful and liberal his people have been to him: As Lord Burleigh did to Queen Elizabeth. It is not this new doctrine of putting out Lord Lieutenants and Justices of Peace, that are honest Gentlemen, and have served the King and his Father. But this is a thing of great finesse, and admirable nicety; it is a hard thing for me to understand it. Let the King exercise his own thoughts, and his own understanding, and he is the best King in the world. And then, if there shall be a War, we shall be all of a piece, and not have a Question carried by one or two voices. Our misery lies here, that there are men, who keep the King and Parliament from a good understanding. Sometimes what we do is like the Long Parliament in 1642; and the King is in the hands of 1642. What is this, but bringing us to distraction? And after all this, I am a good Church of England man, and I say the Protestant Religion is at stake; and therefore would lay aside all these notions. I agree, that the keeping up the Army is a breach of the Law, &c. but I would have that the subsequent Question. Therefore I move "for an Address to the King, that the Army may be disbanded that was raised since the 24th of September 1677, and those come out of France since that time, &c."

Lord Cavendish.] Another Act for disbanding the Army may possibly be an Act of continuing them, if we reflect upon what Mr Oates said, "That we should have other Ministers from Rome, when the Plot took effect." But methinks it is very unreasonable they should not be content with the old ones, that have been so serviceable to them. I would not have the Ministers make use of an honourable Peace for continuing the Army, as they did of an honourable War for raising it.

Mr Boscawen.] I am against promising money before we know how the Army will be disposed of. Men in a crowd are often carried on against their inclination. In the late times, several of the Officers of the Army gave up their Commissions, when they saw what designs were intended; but the Army remained, and did what they would. You cannot too much quell this spirit of an Army, in time of Peace. If you go the same way you went before, to disband this Army, you cannot but expect the same effect. What has been, may be again. If you go in the same method you went in before, you will not only be deceived of your money, but be farther off from disbanding them. Therefore I cannot consent that you should go the same way.

Colonel Birch.] If I can attain my end by smooth words, I will never use bad ones. We all agree in the end, to disband the Army, but something we stick upon a little, viz. "That this continuing them is illegal." To that I believe you will not have a negative. But I am not for putting that Question now. If to deter for hereafter, better not now, but another time; for I fear, when there is an occasion for an Army indeed, they will be so afraid you will not have them again. But I am not for their costing you any more money, if you have not your end, which is to be rid of them. Most agree, that in this Design or Plot, (I think it holds to be a Plot yet) they were stark mad, if they struck their fatal blowswithout an Army. So much the Army was towards the Plot. First I would inform myself, what money would discharge them, those raised since September 1677, and those come out of France. But I cannot but observe, that those men that came out of France are set to guard London, and fresh-bodied men sent into Flanders, that are not used to it. I believe 200,000l. will disband them, and you may begin it the next week, and be doing with some presently. Resolve on an Act for raising 200,000l. payable to the Chamber of London, and to such hands as the Chamberlain shall appoint, and to borrow 200,000l. for the present. This is my way, and it may do it.

Mr Swynfin.] The work we are upon is of great weight, and, as it is so, a work of great difficulty. All are agreed that it is for the public good to disband the Army, and speedily, and of greatest weight to do it suddenly. I must take notice of the overtures for disbanding the Army, both before and now. I cannot directly repeat the King's words in his Speech, "that he would keep up the Army if it were in his power, till the issue of that Treaty on foot was known," but left it to you whether to disband them or no. He has been importuned by the Spaniard to keep them up, till the ratification of the Peace be passed, because, if the forces were then withdrawn, all the rest of Flanders would be lost. Now we are going upon the same work we were upon, let us not run upon the same rock. Though he left the disbanding them to you, yet I fear this will be understood as a reserved qualification, if the Peace be not ratified, and you take no notice of it. I think the sense of the House should be understood in this; for if it be known that whatever the issue of the Treaty be, you will disband them, now whether the ratification of the Treaty be, or be not, you will think it necessary to disband them—This I offer as one caution. I would be governed by the words in the King's Speech. Do without delay what you do in it. Unless they are disbanded whilst the House sits, I fear it will be otherwise. In order to consider what money will disband them (for it may be, the money we gave for disbanding them has paid them till now) I would have that clear before you, and then you may know with what speed you may raise this money.

Mr Secretary Coventry offered the Memorial of the Marquess of Bergamene, the Spanish Ambassador, about that King's desire of retaining the Forces in Flanders—But it was refused.

Mr Papillon.] There are not above five thousand of these men in Flanders; the rest of the thirty thousand are in England; for what intent I know not. Those in Flanders, that went over for the honour of the Nation, are unpaid; and those here are paid, and in no want. Those in England are a Grievance, all agree, and that never looked towards Flanders. My meaning is, that by this the Flanders Forces could not be paid longer.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] The difference between the Flanders Forces and those here, is this; the Flanders Forces were sent from hence, and those here lie in quarters, and the inn-keepers give them 6d. a day, five or six of them in a morning, to be rid of them. When the King of France made so great a conquest in Flanders, he might have taken all the towns, even Brussels; but that would have irritated the Dutch into the Confederacy. The French King can have Flanders when he will. It is the interest of Christendom that you should draw these Forces away, to engage the Hollanders into a League for the preservation of Flanders. We sent these men over, to make a base and dishonourable Peace; and the Hollanders feared that we sent them over, not only to help Flanders, but to dissolve their Government. And they feared us. Withdraw your men out of Flanders, and Holland will pour men in. Though Holland had Peace with France, yet they put men into garrisons, regiment after regiment. And withdraw your Forces, and they will pour men in apace.

Mr Powle.] I think we should take no notice of the Spanish Ambassador's Memorial, offered you by Secretary Coventry. The Spaniards do what is good for them, and we must do what is good for us. Our Crown owes little obligation to the Spaniards, for they made Peace with Holland without the participation of England—Therefore I move that the Forces may be disbanded.

[Resolved, Nemine contradicente,] That it is necessary for the safety of his Majesty's Person, and [preserving] the Peace of the Government, that all the Forces which have been raised since September 29, 1677, and all others [that since that time have been brought over from beyond the seas from foreign service] be forthwith disbanded.

[Resolved, That it is the humble opinion and desire of this House, that the Forces which are now in Flanders, may be immediately called over, in order to their disbanding.]


  • 1. Information had been given to the House the day before, "That Mr Bedlow was not satisfied that his Pardon was full enough." See the Journal.
  • 2. The Duke of Buckingham killed the Earl of Shrewsbury. See Vol. II. p. 246.
  • 3. This last particular is not expressed in the Journal.
  • 4. No mention is made of this in the Journal.
  • 5. In the Journal, "the Painted Chamber" is named in the Message.