Journal of the House of Commons: February 1587

The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. Originally published by Irish University Press, Shannon, Ire, 1682.

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Simonds d'Ewes, 'Journal of the House of Commons: February 1587', The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, (Shannon, Ire, 1682), pp. 407-411. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

Simonds d'Ewes. "Journal of the House of Commons: February 1587", in The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, (Shannon, Ire, 1682) 407-411. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

d'Ewes, Simonds. "Journal of the House of Commons: February 1587", The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, (Shannon, Ire, 1682). 407-411. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,

February 1587

Prorogued to the 15th day of February.

But this Parliament was not at this time Prorogued, but only adjourned by the Lords Commissioners appointed upon Saturday the 29th day of October foregoing; and therefore Mr Fulk Onslow at this time Clerk of the House of Commons is exceedingly mistaken in this place, and Mr William Onslow his Kinsman who supplied his place in the next meeting of this Parliament doth likewise erre in setting down the beginning or commencement of the said new meeting upon the foresaid 15th day of February being Wednesday, where he stileth it a Session of Parliament holden by Prorogation; whereas it was neither new Parliament nor new Session, but a meer new meeting of one and the same Parliament.

And that these were two new meetings and not two Sessions, it is most plain by the very words touching the Adjournment thereof entred in the original Journal-Book of the Upper House in manner and from following, viz.

On Friday the second of December Commissionarii Reginæ adjournaverunt præsens Parliamentum usque in decimum quintum diem Februarii prox.

Secondly, There was not any one Act that did pass at the end of this first meeting which I conceive is an inseparable accident unto every Session of Parliament.

Thirdly and lastly, It is very plain that this Adjournment was of the like nature and upon the like occasion with that in the last Parliament in Anno 27. Reginæ Eliz. Anno Domini 1584. viz. because Christmass drawing near, the Members of either House might have liberty to recede into their several Countries for the better relief of the Poor and maintenance of Hospitality.

And therefore whereas these two meetings are placed in the Original Journal-Book of the House of Commons very incongruously in two distinct and several Journals, as if they had been two distinct and several Sessions; they are here rightly placed together, and so the passages of the said second meeting do now follow in due course and order.

On Wednesday the 15th day of February, (to which day the Parliament had been Adjourned by the Lords Commissioners aforesaid on Friday the 2d day of December foregoing) the two Houses met in their several places without any pomp or Solemnity, this being (as hath been before observed) neither new Parliament nor new Session, but a mere new meeting of either House upon the said Adjournment of the former meeting thereof, which began on the 29th day of October being Saturday in Anno 28 Reginæ Eliz. as is aforesaid.

The Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of the House of Commons being set, Mr Serjeant Puckering then Speaker thereof, informed the House that Mr Fulk Onslow Clerk of the Parliament was so weakned by Sickness that he could not at this present exercise his place; Therefore he had appointed Mr William Onslow his Kinsman a Member of this House here present to supply it; and therefore asked their allowance, which they very willingly granted.

The same time Mr Cromwell moved the House, for that at their Petition her Majesty had done Justice upon the Scottish Queen to the greater Safeguard of her Majesties Person and the whole Realm, he thought it fit that her Majesty might receive from them their humble thanks; which motion was well liked, but at this time it proceeded no further.

Two Bills had each of them one reading; whereof the first was touching Fines and Recoveries before the Justices of the Common Pleas; and the second for limitation of time touching Writs of Error growing by fraud.

The same day Mr Vice-Chamberlain, commanded as (he said) by her Majesty, moved the House, for that this Parliament was not expected to hold at this time, many of the Nobility being Lieutenants in their Countries, and others principal Members of this House were absent, by occasion whereof those great weighty causes for which this Parliament is called, cannot have such deep consultation as is fit; Therefore he thought it convenient to have an Adjournment: and therefore to move the Lords of the Upper House for the liking thereof. Which motion being well liked, Mr Vice-Chamberlain and a convenient number of the House, so many as would without nomination, did attend him to the Lords; who upon his return from the Lords made report, that they having considered of the motion, found the same want, and therefore yielded to an Adjournment of the Parliament until Wednesday next, being the 22d day of this instant Month of February, if this House would condescend unto it. Unto which Adjournment this House also yielded; which consent Mr Vice-Chamberlain did there presently signifie to the Lords, and upon his return the House brake up.

On Wednesday the 22th day of February (to which day the Parliament had been last adjourned upon Wednesday the 15th day of this instant February foregoing) the House again sitting, the Right Honourable Sir Christopher Hatton Knight Vice-Chamberlain to her Majesty and one of her Majesties most Honourable Privy Council used this Speech in effect to the House, viz. That it was her Majesties pleasure to have dangers disclosed, and to have the House know, that she thanked God for the goodness of the House, that she wished the Session (mistaken for Meeting) to be short, that men of Government might go home for matter of Government, hospitality and defence, and to take another time for making of Laws, saving such as be now of necessity.

The dangers which her Majesty meaneth, proceed of ancient malice, and are to be prepared for, and God called upon for aid.

The principal heads of the dangers:

The Catholicks abroad, the Pope, the King of Spain, the Princes of the League, the Papists at home and their Ministers.

The principal root hereof:

The Council of Trent which agreed to extirp Christian Religion (which they term Heresie) whereunto divers Princes assented, and bound themselves in solemn manner.

Pope Pius Quintus sent her Excommunication against her Majesty, Dr. Mourton and Mendoza a Spanish Ambassadour bestirred them, a Northern Rebellion was bred, the Pope and the rest practised for the Scottish Queen, and she being acquainted proceeds by her means.

Pope Paulus the Thirteenth proceeds and sends Jesuits and Seminaries to England and Ireland, and they proceed to inveagle the Subjects, and disswade them from obedience. Visko beginneth a Rebellion in Ireland. James FitzMorris furthereth the Execution thereof. Doctor Sanders and Desmond stir new Rebellion there, and wrote into England, &c. Parry was moved to kill her Majesty, and perswaded it was meritorious.

Pope Sixtus the Fifth imitateth the other Popes to execute their former devices, and writeth to the Cardinal of Lorain and Guise, that he will overthrow the Gospel (which Mr. Vice-Chamberlain honourably termed the glorious Gospel) and therefore moved them to join with the Princes of the League, and to practise to win the King of Scots, and to set up the Scottish Queen in England, and made his reckoning of the Cantons that be Popish, the Switzers, the Duke of Savoy, the Duke of Ferrara, King of Spain, and King of France. A chief Instrument to work this, was one Carew, called also Father Henry.

He was sent into Germany and over Italy and France, wrote to the Scottish Queen that the Powers will join to overthrow England, and make known the effect of his labour to the Pope. Invasion should have been made into England and Ireland the last year, and not unlike to be attempted this year.

The Pope excommunicateth the King of Navar. The Pope accounteth not of Popish preaching and perswasions that way; but nevertheless moveth all to use the word, and for maintenance thereof spareth his Treasure otherwise, and withdraweth maintenance from Jesuits, Seminaries: and divers others Letters were found with the Scottish Queen, which prove all these to be true. If we serve Almighty God in sincerity of heart, we need not to fear. It is to be remembred that the King of Spain sought to recover some part of his Fathers credit by using our Treasure and force to get St Quintines; but he soon made his advantage of it, and regarded not our Territories in France, but suffered the loss of Calice and all our Territories; and after the death of Queen Mary what he could. Her Majesty sought for his good will, sending the Lord Mountague, the Lord Cobham, Sir Thomas Chamberlain Knight, Mr Maun and others, and they were but hardly used, some of them were offered great indignity, and Mr Mauns Son forced by strength to do a kind of Penance. He comforted the Queens Enemies, he giveth colour of Wars, he chargeth the Queen that her Subjects have aided his Rebels in the Low Countries, with countenancing Monsieur with Money at Cambray, with sending her Nobility with him into the Low Countries, with the actions of Sir Francis Drake, with assistance of the Low Countries.

Of the purpose of the Combined Princes.

Their shew is to deal with the King of Navarr to extirp him, but their drift is to ruinate Religion not only there, but to set upon and to work the ruine of it here also. Wherein the King of Spain and Guise are now very busie. Their malice is the more for executing the Scottish Queen, but their hope is the less. The King of Spain his designments are to invade England and Ireland.

His Preparation.

Three hundred sixty Sail of Spain. Eighty Gallies from Venice and Genoua. One Galliass with six hundred armed men, from the Duke of Florence. Twelve thousand men maintained by Italy and the Pope. Six thousand by the Spanish Clergy. Twelve thousand by his Nobility and Gentlemen of Spain. It is reported that ten thousand of these be Horsemen, I think it not all true, but something there is.

We must look to the Papists at home and abroad. It hath touched us in the blood of the Nobility and the blood of many Subjects.

They practise to frame Subjects against all duty, and bring in Doctrine of lawfulness and merit to kill the Queen, and have sent their Instruments abroad to that purpose.

Two manner of forces are to be handled. Assistance to the Low Countries, defence by force otherwise. That God may assist us in Justice, in Right, in Defence against those Princes.

The assistance is acceptable that will be profitable. Her Majesty oweth relief there in Honour, according to the Leagues, especially between us and the House of Burgundy: which Leagues differ from Leagues growing between Prince and Prince, for they grew between the people and this State. We are bound to help them in Honour according to the Leagues. Many Marriages and many Secrecies have been long between us, and the relieving of the afflictions of that people may not be omitted.

The heads of their miseries are: The Spanish Inquisition by Placard, using strange tortures not to be suffered; great impositions without and against Law, sending some of their people into Spain and there tyrannized over; their Noblemen done away; taking their Towns and setting Tyrants over them to use them like Dogs. The purpose was to bring the Low Countries into a Monarchal seat, and then væ nobis. The Queens dealing there is warranted by God; The Queen is occasioned of necessity for safety of her Dominions and us, that that Country may be preserved, that the English Commodities may be vented there with readiness, with safety and with profit; the recovery thereof will be good for this Country and Crown; it may not be suffered that a Neighbour should grow too strong (he uttered that as though it were not meet another Prince should have it; for examples whereof he commended the Princes of Italy and especially the Duke of Florence for using that policy, Henry the 7th for aiding the Duke of Brittany with eight thousand men rather than the King of France, after he had found great friendship of them both, that the King of France might not grow too Strong.)

The King of Spain seeketh to be yet greater, for he hath already a Seat in Council amongst the Princes of Germany by reason of Territories his Father got there; And if he could, he would frame the Low Countries to his desire.

As to the pretence of Injuries before remembred: As to the first going over, her Majesty misliked it, and punished some of the Captains (he named Sir Humfrey Gilbert for one.) Concerning Monsieur, the first time her Majesty drew him from proceeding for the Low Countries; The second time she consented that he should only assist the Low Countries, which Monsieur afterwards abused contrary to her Majesties meaning. Concerning Mr Drakes first Voyage, her Majesty knew it not; and when he came home, she seized the whole Mass of Substance brought by him to satisfie the King of Spain (if cause so required) and thereupon desired Certificate for Invasion into Ireland.

Concerning Mr Drake's last Voyage it was to meet with the restraints and seisures in Spain, and their purpose of War was thereupon discovered; for there was found by the Master of Mr Bonds Ship who took the Corrigedore, and others, a Commission from the King of Spain, whereby he termed us his Rebels, as he termed the Low Countries.

He then remembred another grievance not touched before, which was the entertaining of Don Anthony.

Which he answered to be done in Honorable Courtesie, because of his State, who was a King anointed and crowned, though his seat was not long untroubled, and coming hither in honourable and courteous manner, though something weakned, required the entertainment he had.

Then he iterated, that the great grief is Religion, and said that all godly ones are bound to defend it. He then said, God endue us to fear him, and all things shall prosper. He said her Majesty protesteth sincere service to God, and to leave the Crown in peace, &c. commended her courage against their malice, esteeming it not less than the stoutest Kings in Europe.

Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer after Mr Vice-Chamberlain his speeches ended, remembred some of the former, and inferred, and so concluded that the great preparations of War which was sit speedily to be thought of and provided, would grow chargeable; and therefore thought it fit with expendition that the House should appoint a convenient number of the same to set down Articles for a Subsidy.

Whereupon are appointed Committees for concluding and drawing of Articles for the Subsidy and other great Causes, all the Privy Council being of this House, the first Knight for every Shire and others, who were appointed to meet in the Exchequer Chamber at two of the Clock in the Afternoon.

One Bill lastly, being for the better payment of Debts and Legacies by Executors and Administrators, was read the first time.

On Thursday the 23d of February three Bills of no great moment had each of them one reading; of which the first being the Bill against delay of execution in Actions of Debt was read the first time.

The Committees appointed for Conference touching a Loan or Benevolence to be offered to her Majesty are, Mr Francis Bacon, Mr Edward Lewkenor, and others.

On Friday the 24th day of February four Bills of no great moment had each of them one reading; of which the last being a Bill to avoid many dangers touching Records of Fines levyed in the Court of Common Pleas, was upon the second reading committed unto Mr Recorder of London, Mr Morrice, Mr Drew and others, and the Bill was delivered to Mr Recorder, who with the rest was appointed to meet in SerjeantsInn in Fleetstreet on Saturday next at two of the Clock in the Afternoon.

Sir Thomas Scot, Sir Henry Knyvet, Mr Thomas Knyvet and Mr Topclyffe are appointed by this House to search certain Houses in Westminster suspected of receiving and harbouring of Jesuits, Seminaries or of Seditious and Popish Books and Trumperies of Superstition.

On Saturday the 25th day of February the Bill for the limitation of Time of Errors growing by Fraud had its second reading, and the Committees appointed for the Bill of Fines and Recoveries on the day foregoing are also appointed for this said Bill to meet at Serjeants-Inn in Fleetstreet at two of the Clock in the Afternoon, and the Bill was delivered to Mr Recorder of London.

Two other Bills also of no great moment had each of them one reading; of which the last being the Bill for Attainder was upon the second reading committed to all the Privy Council of this House, Sir Henry Knyvet, Mr Recorder of London, Mr Francis Bacon, Mr Morrice and others, who were appointed to meet upon Tuesday in the Exchequer Chamber at two of the Clock.

The Bill delivered by Mr Speaker to the Right Honourable Sir Francis Knowles.

On Munday the 27th day of February the House was informed by Mr Harris, that one William White had arrested Mr Martin a Member of this House: Therefore it is ordered by the House that the Serjeant should warn White to be here to morrow sitting the Court. Vide plus de ista materia die Sabbat, die 11° Mar' prox'.

Two Bills of no great moment had each of them one reading; of which the first being the Bill for delay of execution of Justice by Writs of Error was committed unto Mr Sollicitor, Sir Henry Knyvet, Mr Recorder, Mr Cromwell, Mr Dalton and others, and the Bill was delivered to Mr Cromwell, and all these to meet on Tuesday next at Serjeants-Inn Hall in Chancery Lane at two of the Clock in the Afternoon.

The same day Mr Cope, first using some Speeches touching the necessity of a learned Ministry and the amendment of things amiss in the Ecclesiastical Estate, offered to the House a Bill, and a Book written, the Bill containing a Petition that it might be Enacted, that all Laws now in force touching Ecclesiastical Government should be void: And that it might be Enacted that that Book of Common Prayer now offered and none other might be received into the Church to be used. The Book contained the form of Prayer and Administration of Sacraments with divers Rites and Ceremonies to be used in the Church, and desired that the Book might be read. Whereupon Mr Speaker in effect used this Speech: For that her Majesty before this time had commanded the House not to meddle with this matter, and that her Majesty had promised to take order in those Causes, he doubted not but to the good satisfaction of all her people; he desired that it would please them to spare the reading of it. Notwithstanding the House desired the reading of it. Whereupon Mr Speaker willed the Clerk to read it. And the Court being ready to read it, Mr Dalton made a motion against the reading of it saying, that it was not meet to be read, and that it did appoint a new form of Administration of the Sacraments and Ceremonies of the Church, to the discredit of the Book of Common Prayer and of the whole State, and thought that this dealing would bring her Majesties indignation against the House thus to enterprize the dealing with those things which her Majesty especially had taken into her own charge and direction. Whereupon Mr Lewkenor spake, shewing the necessity of Preaching and of a learned Ministry, and thought it very fit that the Petition and Book should he read.

To this purpose spake Mr Hurleston and Mr Bainbrigg, and so the time being passed the House brake up, and the Petition nor Book read.

This done her Majesty sent to Mr Speaker as well for this Petition and Book, as for that other Petition and Book for the like effect, that was delivered the last Session of Parliament; which Mr Speaker sent to her Majesty. Vide 2d Mar' and the 4th of Mar.

On Tuesday the 28th day of February her Majesty sent for Mr Speaker, by occasion whereof the House did not sit.

On Wednesday the first day of March Mr Wentworth delivered unto Mr Speaker certain Articles, which contained questions touching the Liberties of the House, and to some of which he was to answer, and desired they might be read. Mr Speaker required him to spare his motion until her Majesties pleasure was further known touching the Petition and Book lately delivered into the House; but Mr Wentworth would not be so satisfied, but required his Articles might be read. Then Mr Speaker said he would first peruse them, and then do that were fit.

This is all that is found in the Original JournalBook of the House of Commons touching this matter, and therefore in respect of the weight of it, having as I conceive a very authentick and true Copy both of the Speech and Articles at large, I thought good to have them fully inserted in manner and form following, viz.

Mr Speaker, For as much as such Laws as God is to be honoured by, and that also such laws as our Noble Soveraign and this worthy Realm of England are to be enriched, strengthened and preserved by from all foreign and domestick Enemies and Traytors, are to be made by this Honourable Council, I as one being moved and stirred up by all dutiful love, and desirous even for conscience sake and of a mind to set forwards God's Glory, the wealth, strength and safety of our natural Queen and Commonweal, do earnestly desire by question to be satisfied of a few questions to be moved by you Mr Speaker, concerning the liberty of this Honourable Council; for I do assure you, I praise my God for it, that I do find in my self a willing mind to deliver unto this Honourable Assembly some little taste and account of that simple Talent which it hath pleased God of his singular favour and goodness to bestow upon me, to gain to his Highness honour and Glory, and to shew unto my noble Prince and Commonwealth true, faithful and dutiful service; of the which mind I am sure Mr Speaker, here are many godly, faithful and true hearted Gentlemen in this Honorable Assembly; howbeit the want of knowledge and experience of the liberties of this Honourable Council doth hold and stay us back. For as we have a hearty desire to serve God, her Majesty and this noble Realm; even so are we fearful and loth to give or offer any offence to her Majesty or unto her Laws; the which we presume we shall not do if keep our selves within the Circle of them, and no man can observe that whereof he is ignorant. Wherefore I pray you Mr Speaker, eftsoons to move these few questions, by question, whereby every one of this House may know how far he may proceed in this Honourable Council in matters that concern the glory of God and our true and loyal service to our Prince and State. For I am fully perswaded, that God cannot be honoured, neither our Noble Prince or Commonweal preserved or maintained without free speech and consultation of this Honourable Council, both which consist upon the liberties of this Honourable Council, and the knowledge of them also. So here are the questions, Mr Speaker; I humbly and heartily beseech you to give them reading, and God grant us true and faithful hearts in answering of them; for the true, faithful and hearty service of our merciful God, our lawful Prince and this whole and worthy Realm of England will much consist here after upon the answer unto these Questions. Wherefore it behoveth us to use wise, grave and godly considerations in answering of them.

Therefore the Lord direct our tongues that we may answer them even with his spirit, the spirit of wisdom, without the which our wisdom is nothing else but foolishness.

The Questions follow.

Whether this Council be not a place for any Member of the same here assembled freely and without controllment of any person or danger of Laws, by Bill or speech to utter any of the griefs of this Commonwealth whatsoever touching the service of God, the safety of the Prince and this Noble Realm.

Whether that great honour may be done unto God, and benefit and service unto the Prince and State without free speech in this Council, which may be done with it.

Whether there be any Council which can make, add to or diminish from the Laws of the Realm, but only this Council of Parliament.

Whether it be not against the Orders of this Council to make any secret or matter of weight, which is here in hand, known to the Prince or any other, concerning the high service of God, Prince or State, without the consent of the House.

Whether the Speaker or any other may interrupt any Member of this Council in his Speech used in this House, tending to any of the forenamed high services.

Whether the Speaker may rise when he will, any matter being propounded, without consent of the House or not.

Whether the Speaker may over-rule the House in any matter or cause there in question; or whether he is to be ruled or over-ruled in any matter or not.

Whether the Prince and State can continue, stand and be maintained without this Council of Parliament, not altering the Government of the State.

At the end lastly, of the said Speech and Questions is set down this short Note or Memorial ensuing. By which it may be perceived both what Serjeant Puckering the Speaker did with the said questions after he had received them, and what became also of this business, viz.

These questions Mr Puckering pocketted up and shewed Sir Thomas Heneage, who so handled the matter, that Mr Wentworth went to the Tower, and the questions not at all moved. Mr Buckler of Essex herein brake his faith in forsaking the matter, &c. and no more was done.

After the setting down of the said Business of Mr Wentworth in the Original Journal-Book, there followeth only this short Conclusion of the business of the day it self, viz.

This day Mr Speaker being sent for to the Queens Majesty, the House departed.