Proceedings in the Commons, 1601: October

Pages 173-180

Historical Collections: Or, An Exact Account of the Proceedings of the Four Last Parliaments of Q. Elizabeth. Originally published by T. Basset, W. Crooke, and W. Cademan, London, 1680.

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In this section


43 Eliz.

A perfect Journal of every days Proceedings, in the House of Commons at the Parliament; beginning at Westminster, the xxvijth. day of October, Anno 1601. and in the 43. Year of the Raign of Q. Eliz. and ending the xixth. day of December, then next following.

Collected by Mr. Heyward Townshend, one of the Members of the said House.

The Queen goes to the Parliament in an open Chariot, with a Canopy of Silver.

Some of the Commons discontented.

The first day of the Parliament, about three of the Clock in the Afternoon; the Queens Majesty, went by Land to Westminster-Abby riding in a Chariot, made all open, only like a Canopy over her head, being of Cloth of Silver; with all the Bishops, and Lords, in their Parliament Robes, according to their Degrees, being marshalled by the Heraulds; Where was made unto her a Sermon, after the hearing whereof she went to the Upper-house of Parliament; where being fate a while, and the Knights and Burgesses of the Lower-house being sent for, the door kept so that they went not all in; notwithstanding, some were within, by some special means before, and heard the Lord - keepers Speech made unto them; which is after (in effect) delivered by Mr. Secretary Cicil, in the Lower-house. So that after the Knights and Burgesses had staid a good while, it was told them, That the Lord-keepers Speech was done, and thereupon every man went away discontented.


In the mean time, whilst her Majesty was at Sermon, the Lord-Admiral came into the Court of Requests, and there began to call the Knights and Burgesses by the Poll; and also, to swear them at the same time: But because that course seemed too tedious, he staid, whilst Sir William Knowls, Controuler of the household, Sir John Stanhopp Vice-Chamberlain, Sir Robert Cicil, Principal Secretary of State; and John Herbert Esquire, second Secretary, came; who were all coming up from the Upper house together, and then only the Knights and Burgesses were called; After that, the Lord Admiral, and Mr. Secretary Cicil, went up to the Upper-house; but Mr. Controuler, Sir John Stanhopp, and Mr. Secretary Herbert, went to the space before the Parliament House door; where they sware all the Lower-house confusedly, four at one time, six at another, eight at another, taking their names that swore; and who not: and still as every man was Sworn, he went into the house, and to his place, as best liked him.

When all were Sworn, and the Queen come to the Upper House, and the Lord-Keepers speech ended: Then all the Privy Councel of the Lower-house, came in thither, and sate quiet a while; and then putting their heads together, Mr. Controuler stood up, and spake to this effect.

The Comptrouler speaks first.

'That it was an Antient Custom in that House, that at those times, some Man should break silence; and I must confess at this time, it belongs to my place. It is needless to shew the use of this House, because its well known to all, or most here. All men knows, that the speech of a multitude breedeth confusion, and dissention. It is therefore fit for us to chuse one, to be our Speaker; which for his experience may speak, and for his sufficiency, dare and can speak on all our Behalfs and Affairs; Neither doth it stand with the Honor, and Antient Usage of this House, to speak but by one. Neither is it answerable to the State of her Majesty, to deliver unto her our mindes, by the Tongues of a confused Multitude. Then we are to fall into consideration, what manner of person he shall be. First, A man Religious; for Religion ought to be the foundation of our building and labour: Then Honest, Grave, Wise, Faithful, and Secret. These Vertues must concur in one Person able to supply this place.

He Recommends the Recorder of London for their Speaker, who seems to Admire at it.

'Now, having delivered unto you, the necessity of a Speaker, and his qualities; I will deliver unto you my Opinion, whom I think fit for the place, referring it to your consideration; and for my own part, not prejudicing the Worth of any in this House, I deem Mr. John Crook, Recorder of London, a most fit, and worthy, and able man for this Service.

'At which words Mr. Crook put off his Hat, with a kind of strange Admiration; whose Sufficiency in all respects, and his Loyalty and Faithfulness to do our Common-wealth service, is well known unto us; and hath been often approved by his learned Speeches diverse times delivered before her Majesty.

'I do not attribute so much to mine own Choice, that I presume to assure you, there is no Man here fitter for the same than he is; but I only make bold to deliver my Opinion, leaving the choise of him, or any other to the free Election of every particular Member of this House.

'And for the motion which hath been made, touching the keeping out of the house, during the time of the Lord Keepers Speech; I do assure you, it was not willingly done, but through Ignorance of the Groom of the Chamber; but if the House be desirous to hear the Effect thereof, I will intreat some that were there at that time, to satisfiy their desires. (The cause of which preclose was, for that one Mr. Leigh, during the time of the Commons swearing, made a complaint to Mr. Controuler, sitting in the House, that they toook it in great disgrace, that they were shut out.

The House Votes for him.

After which Speech, the Council sate silent a while; and afterward Mr. Controuler stood up again, and asked the House of their consent, and opinions to his Motion; Whereupon every man cryed, I, I, I.

The Recorder Excuses himself.

'Then Mr. Recorder stood up in his place, and briefly shewed unto us, his insufficiency and disability; his willingness to serve, but his weakness to perform; his thankfulness for their desire, but the smalness of his own desert; And so laying open his own Infirmities, both for shortness of Memory, and want of Wisdome and Experience, for the undertaking of so great a burthen, he humbly prayed, that they would choose a man who for his Sufficiency were more able; and for his Abilities were more sufficient to supply that place.

They Chuse him.

So sitting down, and the House a little while quiet, Mr. Controuler asked, If they agreed as before? and all Answered, I, I, I.

He is Lead to the Chair.

Then Mr. Controuler and Sir John Stanhop rose up; and Sir John Stanhop on the right hand, and Mr. Controuler on the left, lead him to the Speakers Seat; where standing, without any sitting down as yet, he pawsing a while, spake again in effect as Followeth.

Speaks to the House.

'Your honourable Choice of me, without any my desert, stop; me from pleading either Insufficiency, or Disability; lest I should shew, and make my weakness more apparent, to disapprove the Sensure and good allowance of the Honourable Assembly of this House. But however, it hath pleased you to inable me in this sort; This I dare and can assure you, that you might have chosen many more worthy, but none more ready to shew his utmost indeavor in this service. Which Choice, seeing it hath proceeded out of your Favour undeserved on my part, I shall indeavor, as God shall enable me, to shew my self for this Assembly, most careful, and to every particular Member, most respective, and thankful.

Whereupon he sate down, and put on his Hat: And after a little sitting, and pawse, Sir William Knowls, Controuler, rose up and said, It was her Majesties pleasure, that we should be ready to present our Speaker on Friday next, at two of the Clock in the afternoon. So for that day every man departed.

Fryday Octo. 30.

Fryday Octo. 30. About one of the Clock, the Speaker, and all the House were ready in the Lower House, sitting and talking privately; and then Word was brought, that her Majesty was come by Water to the Upper House; so the Privy Council, and the Speaker, with the whole House, went to the Upper House door, and there staid a long half hour, before such time as they were let in. After, being come in, the Upper House was sate, and the Queen under the State, the Speaker, standing at the Bar below, made three Reverences; which done, he made a Speech to her Majesty to the effect following.

The Speakers Speech to the Queen.

'Most Sacred and mighty Soveraign; upon your Majesties Command, your most dutiful and loving Commons, the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the lower House, have chosen me, your Majesties most humble servant (being a member of the same House) to be their Speaker: But my self finding the weakness of my self, and my abilities too weak to undergo so great a burden, do most humbly beseech your most sacred Majesty, to continue your most gracious favor toward me; and not to lay this Charge, so unsupportable, upon my unworthy and unable self. And that it would please you, to command your Commons to make a new Election of another more able and sufficient, to discharge the great service to be appointed by your Majesty, and your Subjects.

'And I besceech your most Excellent Majesty, not to interpret my denyal herein, to proceed from my unwillingness to perform all devoted dutiful Service: But rather out of your Majesties Clemency and Goodness, to interpret the same, to proceed from that inward fear and trembling, which hath possessed me when heretofore, (with most gratious Audience) it hath pleased your Majesty, to Licence me to speak before you. For I know, and must acknowledge, that under God, even through your Majesties great bounty and favour, I am that I am. And therefore none of your Majesties most dutiful Subjects, more bound to be ready, and being ready, to perform the least of your Majesties Commands.

'I do therefore, most humbly beseech your Majesty, that in regard the service of so great a Prince, and flourishing Kingdom, may the better and more successively be effected, to command your dutiful and loving Commons, the Knights, Citizens, and Burgessess of the Lower House, to proceed to a new Election.

'Then, after he had made three Reverences, the Queen called the Lord Keeper, to whom she spake something in private. And after that, the Lord Keeper spake in effect as followeth.

The Lord Keeper Answers by the Queens Command.

'Mr. Speaker, Her Majesty, with gratious Attention, having heard your wise and grave Excuse; for your discharge, commanded me to say unto you, That even your eloquent Speech, in excuse of your self, is a great Motive, and a Reason very perswasive, both to ratify and approve of the Choice of her loving Commons, the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses; as also to commend their wise and discreet Choise of your self, in her gratious Sensure, both for Sufficiency well Able, and for your fidelity and service, well Approved of; and therefore, her Majesty taketh this Choice of yours, for bonum omen, a sign of good and happy Success, when the beginning is taken in hand with so great Wisdom and Discretion: Her Majesty therefore, Commanded me to say unto you, That she well liketh of your Election, and therefore she Ratifieth it, with her Royal Assent and Consent.

The Speakers second Speech.

Then, Mr. Speaker making three low Reverences, Answered in this sort. 'Most sacred and most puissant Queen, seeing it hath pleased you to command my service; by consenting to the free Election of your dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the House of Commons, of me to be their Speaker: I most humbly beseech your Majesty, to give me leave to shew unto you, the dutiful thoughts, and earnest affections of your loyal subjects, to do your Majesty all service, and to defend your Sacred and Royal Person, both with their Lives & Goods against, &c. And so made a vehement invective against the Tyranny of the King of Spain, the Popes ambition, and the Rebells in Ireland; which he said, were like a Snake cut in pieces, which did crawl and creep to joyn themselves together again. And lastly, with prayers, to continue the prosperous Estate and Peace of this Land, which had been defended, as he said, by the mighty Arm of our Dread and Sacred Queen. (To which she answered openly her self, No, but by the mighty hand of God, Mr. Speaker.) Then he proceeded to the last part, to beseech her Majesty for freedom of Speech to every particular member: For accesse to her Person, liberty of Priviledg to all the Members of this House, and their Servants. And lastly, if any mistaking of any Message (delivered unto him from the Commons) should happen, that her Majesty would be pleased to attribute that to his weakness, in delivery or understanding, and not to the House: As also, any forgetfulness, through want of memory; or that things were not so judicially handled, or expressed by him, as they were deliver'd by the House. To which, after the Queen had spoken to the Lord Keeper again; the Lord Keeper spake in effect, as followeth.

The Lord-Keeper replies, by the Queens Order.

'Mr. Speaker, her Majesty doth greatly commend, and like of your grave Speech, well divided, and well contrived; the first proceeding from a sound Invention, and the other from a setled Judgment and Experience: You have well, and well indeed, weighed the state of this Kingdome, well observ'd the greatness of our puissant, and great Empire, the King of Spain; the continual and excessive charges of the Wars of Ireland; which if they be well weighed, do not only shew the prudence of our gratious Soveraign, in defending of us; but also, the greatness of the charge continually bestowed by her Majesty, even out of her own Revenues, to protect us; and the exposing of her Majesties self to continual troubles, and toilesome Cares, for the benefit and safety of her Subjects.

'Wherefore, Mr. Speaker, it behoveth us to think, and say, as was deliver'd by a great man lately, in a Concilio ad clerum, opus eśt subsidio, ne fiat exitum; or as I think, excedium.

'Touching your other Requests: First, For freedom of Speech, her Majesty willingly Consenteth thereunto, with this caution; That the matter be not spent in Idle and Vain matters, Painting out the same with Froth, and Volubility of words.

'And her Majesty Commandeth, That you suffer not any Speeches made for Contention, or Contradiction-sake, maintained, only by a Tempest of words; whereby the Speakers may seem to get some reputed Credit, by imboldning themselves to maintain Contradiction, and on purpose to trouble the House with vain and long Orations, to hinder the Proceedings in more weighty and greater Importance.

'Touching Access to her Person, she most willingly granteth the same; desiring she may not be troubled, unless urgent and matters of great Consequence compel you thereunto. For this hath been held for a wise Maxime, In troubling great Estates, you must trouble seldome.

'For Liberty unto your selves, and servants, her Majesty hath Commanded me to say unto you all, That she ever intendeth to preserve the Liberty of the House; and granteth Liberty to the meanest Follower of the meanest Member of this House.

'But, her Majesties Pleasure is, you should not maintain, and keep with you, notorious Persons, either for Life, or Behaviour; As desperate Debtors, who never come abroad, fearing her Laws, but at these times. Petty Foggers, and Vipers, of the Common Wealth; prouling and common Solicitors, that sets Dissention between man and man, and man of the like Condition to these.

'These her Majesty earnestly desireth, a Law may be made against; as also that no Member of this Parliament would entertain, or bolster up any man on the like Humor, or Quality, on pain of her Highnesses Displeasure.

'For the Excuse of the House, and your self, Her Majesty Commandeth me to say, That your Sufficiency hath so often times been approved before her, That She doubteth not of the Sufficient Discharge of the Place you shall serve in.

'Wherein, she willeth you, to have a special Eye, and Regard; not to make new and idle Laws, and trouble the House with them: But rather to look to the Abridging, and Repealing of diverse obsolete and superfluous Statutes.

'As also, First, To take in hand Matters of greatest Moment and Consequence; In doing thus, Mr. Speaker, you shall fulfil her Majesties Commandment, do your Country good, and satisfy Her Majesties Expectation.

Which being said, the Speaker made three Reverences to the Queen. Then the Lord Keeper said;. For certain great and weighty Causes, Her Highness's Pleasure is, the Parliament shall be Adjourned until Friday next.

Which Speech, was taken to be an Adjournment of the Lower House, but it was not so meant; wherefore the Lower House sate the next day, being Saturday morning.

So, after some room made, the Queen came through the Commons, to go into the Painted-Chamber, who graciously offering her Hand to the Speaker, he kissed it; but not one word she spake unto him, neither, as she went through the Commons; few said, God bless your Majesty, as they were wont in all great Assemblies. And the throng being great, and little room to pass, she moved her Hand to have more room; whereupon one of the Gentlemen Ushers said openly, Back Masters, make room. And one answered stoutly, behind, If you will Hang us, we can make no more room: which the Queen seemed not to hear, though she heaved up her Head, and looked that way towards him that spake. After, she went to white-Hall by Water.

Saturday, Octob. 31.

Saturday, Octob. 31. I was not there, thinking the House had not sare till Thursday; but I heard there was a motion made for the maintenance of the Priviledges of the House, and to have a Committee for it; which was appointed on Thursday at one of the Clock in the Afternoon. And two Bills were Read, one against Drunkenness; another, that no Bishop, nor Arch-Bishop, may make any Lease in Remainder, or Reversion, until within three Years before the expiration of the former Lease.

This Day, the Prayer was brought into the House, which was appointed every Morning to be Read, during the sitting of this Parliament, amongst other Prayers, by a Minister appointed for that purpose.

The COPY of the


A Prayer to be used Every Morning in the House of Commons.

Oh Eternal, Almighty, and ever Living GOD; which hast made the Eye, and therefore seest; which hath framed the Heart, and therefore understandest; from whose only Throne all Wisdome cometh: Look down upon us, that call upon Thee; bow down thine Ear and hear us; open thine Eyes and behold us, which in the Name of thy Son, and our Saviour, do lift up our Hearts unto Thee. Forgive us O Lord, forgive us all that we have done amiss, in Thought, word, or Deed. Forgive us our negligences; forgive us our unthankfulness, make us mindful of thy Benefits, and thankful for all thy Mercies. Thou that seest the Hearts, and searchest the Reins, and beholdest the utmost parts of the world, try and examine our Hearts, and guide us in thy ways; knit our Hearts unto Thee, that we may fear thy Name. Let us ever fear this Glorious, and Fearful Name, The Lord our God. Let all that despise Thee, feel thy Judgments: Let all Men know, it is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God: Let thy Mercies always prevent us, and compass us about: In all our ways, words, and works, let us set Thee always before our Eyes. Remove from us all vanity and hypocrisy. Let thy Truth always preserve us; Bless our Consultations and Councels, bless the Thoughts of our Hearts, bless the Words of our Lips; let our Meditations be acceptable in thy sight. Let all be directed to the advancement of thy Glory, the upholding of thy true Worship, the safely of thy blessed Servant and Anointed Queen, our dear and dread Soveraign; and to the continuance of the Peace and good of this Land. Let all prosper that love Thee; confound the Councel of the Wicked, break their Jaws in their Mouths that speak against thy Truth, or have evil will against Her, whom in thy great Mercy thou hast set over us; multiply and increase her days; add age after age in all peace and happiness, unto her Years; make her a long Nursing Mother unto thy Church, a Comfort to thy People, a Terror to thine, and her Enemies: Bless her Armies, both at home and abroad; bless her going out, and her coming in; bow down the Backs of all that rise against her, continue thy Truth, Grace, Mercy, and Peace amongst us, whilst the Sun indureth: And we will Offer unto Thee, O Lord our God, the Sacrifice of Prayer and Thanksgiving; we will Praise Thee with joyful Lips, our Hearts shall rejoyce in Thee, we will sing of thy Salvation, all the Days of our Lives, and always say, Thine is the Kingdom, all Power, and Glory, for ever and ever, Amen.