Wednesday, March 1.
The Petition of the Refiners of Sugar was presented by Mr
Love, signed by no hand, "which," Love said, "he thought
not necessary, because they were not a corporation, but the
persons concerned were at the door (fn. 1) ."
Sir Robert Howard.] If you hear the Refiners, you
must also hear the Planters, the business of the Plantations being highly concerned in it.
Mr. Love.] It is essential to the liberties of the Commons to petition, and for us to receive them; he has
got hands to the Petition.
Sir Wm Coventry.] Has communicated some things of
the debate of the House, for which, if faulty, he asks pardon—He serves for a fishing town, and has acquainted
his Corporation with the imposition upon salt, and thinks
it his duty, unless checked from you—A Petition is proper from the Commons, if they apprehend a grievance;
those who represent them ought to deliver their grievances,
with the reasons of them, and you usually appoint a
Committee to send for persons concerned. If their Petition can make the House understand it, knows not why
their Representatives may not open the thing, and not
receive it by way of Petition.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Small innovations have too often
been earthquakes to shake the Government.—He is very
tender of the consequence—It is not a Petition against
your tax, but the manner of it, and a Committee of the
whole House may enquire into the thing—Desires to be
instructed by Corporations, who he wishes would chuse
men of parts; but it is more your right, and it is the
greatest part of your preservation, to raise money. But
should a Quarter-Sessions, or Jury, petition against a
tax, you would be ruined in your constitution, and it
was never known that a Petition against a tax was read.
There is but one degree betwixt petitioning and commanding—Would have them heard at a Committee, but
would not be guided by Petitions in your Councils. He
may probably speak out of his compass in trade, having no knowledge in it but what he has learned here—
Would not receive the Petition.
Mr Coleman.] It is said there is a rule for receiving
Petitions; anciently there were tryers of Petitions, to see
if they were modest and not seditious—No grievance but
there is a person to represent the place—Is it reasonable
to say, "Stay till we have a Law, and then petition?"
This Petition moves not to take off the tax, but offers
you instructions towards your Law; when you have
heard it, you may reject it; but read it.
Sir Richard Temple.] Would be resolved, Whether a
Committee can receive Petitions without the leave of the
House? The Committee of the whole House cannot,
without leave of the House, receive Petitions, as other
Committees may do. You are not to disclose debates,
but resolutions may be committed to the Journals, to
which any man may have recourse. It is a man's duty
to receive information from his Corporation, and to communicate resolutions of the House to them. If this Petition be against the tax, it ought to be rejected—In general aids you cannot receive Petitions, but where persons are particularly concerned, you may hear them, by
enabling the Committee of the whole House; and it is
all one whether by Petition, or no. Anciently some counties have petitioned that they have been impoverished by
reason of the Scotch invasions; they have been heard,
because a special occasion.
Sir John Birkenhead.] The great reason why you have
Representatives is, because your people in numbers should
not come to disturb the Counclls; you yourselves are the
Petitioners—A Bill is Supplex libellus, "a Petition."
Sir Robert Howard.] Moves to hear both the Planters
and Sugar-Bakers at the Committee.
Colonel Birch.] Is against laying the duty at the Custom-house. He that steals the Custom there, steals the
duty also. We have all our ports open, when Holland
is frozen up; we may come round England; ease the
Custom-house, and you will support trade; set the ports
[March 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 15, omitted.]
Thursday, March 16.
Hearing of Counsel on the Petition of some of the Governors
of the Corporation of the Poor.
Mr Ayliffe, Counsel and Treasurer for that Corporation.]
If a farthing has been spent but upon the public occasion, hopes they have not ill administered the business;
but these persons that complain have been the obstructors
themselves, and leaves it to the wisdom of this House.
Of 1000l. laid by the Sessions, not 500l. [has been]
gathered. They have 80l. in their hands. Some dead,
some money lost; the money they have gathered, not
paid, though threatened to be sent to Newgate; and
they, instead of giving an account for what money they
have received, pray an Act for the money the Justices
have charged. When the account was presented to the
Sessions, they printed it, and exposed it to examination
by an audit. They insist upon it that they are not
ashamed to be called to an account. They waited upon
the Judges for directions and advice, and followed it
prudently and carefully. In January, 1663, the Act
came out; they took several of the Corporation, of all
professions, to advise; they resolved to build a Workhouse for the Poor; 4445l. stock. Though this assessment was granted, there was 1315l. lost, yet between
Trinity-Monday and the 13th of October, they built a
house that cost 4000l. and put Poor into it, and made
this by-law, "that none should be put in under seven, nor
above sixteen years old."—They sent to St. Giles's to bring
in their Poor; a few they sent in under seven years old,
and some decrepid and lame, and unable to work. To
this they said, "that this is not an hospital or nursery, but
a workhouse; if they would not send in such as are allowed by the Act, they would not receive them." Now
the parish of St. Giles's clamour against them, though
they have taken in forty-two about October, and kept
them the best part of the year. Two of the Corporation were appointed to buy in cheap but wholsome provision. In 1664 a proposition was made, by a person,
to bring in tapestry-work for hangings; that in combing, spinning, and winding, so many shall be employed,
and that, which is in the hands of a few Dutchmen, shall
be in many hands. The person continued, but in 1665
the Plague broke out, and a covenant was, that the Corporation should maintain all that should have any pestilential disease, or be disabled. When the Plague broke
out, they had 150 persons in the house, and they bought
a house for the sick, and they agreed with a Doctor for
every person recovered of the Plague, 20s. for physic,
&c. and nothing if he died; one Doctor went away, but
another staid and did his duty. The Plague was so fatal, that he called for money, or he must let all out to
be destroyed. Several sums of money were furnished
him, but none from the public. Fifty-six persons were
actually visited, and actually recovered, and the Doctor
had his money, but some time after. And having thus
run betwixt 8 or 900l. out of their own purses, they made
a rate, by consent of the Justices and the Judges; who,
inspecting the accounts, told the people they deserved
it for their industry; but 675l. of 2000l. was levied,
and no more. The Lord Chief Justice advised them to
confer. The thing was undertaken, but some jars falling out, they would turn the poor upon them again. The
Mechanics would not advance any money, and they amongst themselves laid out some money. They came to
the Sessions, and represented that the undertaking was
forsaken. The King sent in 1000l. the Archbishop of Canterbury 50l. Justice Hyde 20l. Knows not else the value
of a shilling given by any body, not of the Corporation,
unless some odd 20s. to buy linnen, given by some gentlewomen—4000l. laid, and not above 670l. brought in.
Of every penny of the two first assessments they have
given an account. Ayliffe did receive 400l. and is ready
to give an account, and the rest are willing to do it at an
hour's warning. He and they have vouchers for every
payment. 'Till the contrary shall be proved, hopes he
shall not be prejudged, but that they have done like men
Mr Reading, for the Parishes.] Will disprove every
particular of Mr Ayliffe's discourse. Ayliffe named himself Commissioner, and with his party governed all things.
Two or three to make a Court, which ought to be seven
or eight. Ayliffe and two more have taken this money,
and put it into the hands of one gone to the Indies,
who can make no account according to the Statute. Ayliffe says, "there is 1300l. in arrear," but he says they have
received it. The poor they took in was not as alleged;
they found out people in the highways, and kept them
prisoners. Ayliffe says, "the King gave 1000l." but that
was before they rated a penny. Mr Poyns, a particular
hand, maintained the poor some time. Mr Ayliffe reported he had bought a sick house for 50l. for which he
himself paid 60l. and now it is an Alehouse. Ayliffe
charges in some places 30l. when he has had 60l.
The poor have not been maintained by the Corporation,
but either by Mr Poyns, or Sir Robert Vyner. Mr Ayliffe
has kept above twenty Courts, with three or four persons,
where he has had the sole inspection. The sick house is
turned into an alehouse, the workhouse into a tent-house.
They might have had 402 as well as 42 persons. While
this affair was under consideration here, those gentlemen, in defiance of your order, proceeded to call for
the money. One Welsh said, that "a vote of the House
of Commons is like a Bill in Chancery without injunction."
[Resolved, That this House is satisfied, for any thing yet appearing, that the Justices of the Peace for the county of Middlesex have behaved themselves faithfully, in pursuance of the
powers given them by the Act of Parliament for the relief of
Resolved, That this House is satisfied that the Governors for
the Corporations for the poor have behaved themselves well in
the execution of the powers given them by the former Act, for
any thing that appeared to the House this day.
Resolved, That it be an instruction to the Committee, to
which the Bill touching the Corporation for the Poor is committed, that the power of nomination of the Governors for the
Corporations for relief of the poor shall continue, as it is now established by the former Law; and that it be referred to the Committee to rectify the Bill accordingly.]
[March 17, 18, 20, and 21, omitted.]
Wednesday, March 22.
Mr Crouch reports from the Committee, to which the Bill
against Conventicles was committed, some clauses, agreed by
the Committee to be added to the Bill.
Colonel Titus.] You have provided against christenings;
he would have marriages and burials also.
Sir John Talbot.] Complained of a Copyholder of his,
who, after twice asking in the Church, got himself married, and his wife had her widow's estate.
Occasionally on fining of Juries.
Mr Attorney Finch.] An indictment at Newgate for a
riot with a Conventicle is without your Act. The Habeas Corpus was upon a Jury's judging Law as well as
fact. This indemnity alters not the case as to the Judges,
but this is to set a brand of infamy upon the Judges,
and your votes bind not the Judges; for if what this
House votes must be a direction of the Law, and take
away the power of the Judges, it is to alter the Law,
and all proceedings. Your vote must be his opinion
here, but out of doors he is of another mind, and will
hold the contrary.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Your votes, being the opinion of the
Commons of England, are a ground for you to impeach
the Judges. The case of ship-money, alleged, was only
to take away a little money; but fining the Juries takes
away all the use you have of them, both for lives and
fortunes. Looks upon it as destructive of what we have
to hold lives and fortunes by. This clause is necessary
that the Juries may not, for the future, be fined; you
are told it is a pardoning, not justifying, the thing.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Shall not enter into the debate of
the power of fining Juries by the Judges; that came in
by a collateral side-wind. Would ask any man whether it would not be a great prejudice for any man to
have an exception in an Act of Pardon. Lord Chief
Justice Keeling was here impeachable for telling the Jury
he would fine them, if they found it not murder (at Somerset Assize.) The foolishness, the passion, and choler
of the man in doing it was his crime. If the thing be
right, make a Law for it. If you pardon the Judges,
does that say, they may do it again? It is a thing yet
in suspence. If we are bigger than any people in the
world, by being tryed by Juries, never exclude that.
(fn. 2) .] Juries have been fined, but rarely, at
the Star-chamber, not at Common Law; but they have
Mr Boscawen.] Agrees that your votes are not binding after a Session; but remembers that the Law was
then, as the votes are. An Act in the case—Henry VIII.
For the corruptions of Juries in Wales, there was a Court
in the nature of the Star-chamber, who had appeal from
it only to the Lords of the Council.
Lord St. John.] At the same time we give liberty to
fine Juries, we put our lives and fortunes into one man's
hands. The Judge bid the Jury find it special, and the
Judge in Law found it murder, and the man was hanged. The vote formerly concerning Lord Chief Justice
Keeling, "Resolved, That the fining and imprisoning Juries is illegal." If you have voted it, and ordered a Bill
for it, surely you will not justify the thing now.
Sir John Duncombe.] There may be extremes on both
sides. If then thought reasonable to bring in a Bill,
would not crowd it in here; leave the thing as it is, without putting a mark on it. The gentlemen did well;
it was prudent and legal; secure those gentlemen as
largely as you can, but name not the thing here.
Sir William Lowther.] It is harder to corrupt twelve
men than one Judge, and he would not have such a thing
left to posterity; therefore would have the thing particularly named in the clause, and not generally.
Sir Robert Howard.] Some have moved that all things
relating to the Act of Conventicles, or colour of it, may
be indemnified—No Law could be produced by the Chief
Justice for fining Juries; but that Jury was fined for first
bringing in one verdict, and then another.
Mr Hampden.] Whoever is of opinion that the Juries
may be fined, he hopes, may never be convinced, by sad
experience, that he gives up his life and fortune to one
Judge. Suppose a fine of 5s. and he distrains for 5l.
and brings the Justice the money, and keeps the rest,
and accounts for the overplus, says the Act; the poor
man, it may be, not able to sue—Would have that
Mr Attorney Finch.] They are nugatory words in an
Act of Parliament. If I overpay or overlay at Common
Law, he must render the overplus; he may sue for it.
If we perplex this indemnity, we give men occasion to
rejoice who have not executed it. If it be worthy your
countenance, let it appear that you own them that act in it;
the consequence will be delivering up a man to be starved
only, for murdering his father, or brother, by the dexterity of corrupting Juries and Under-Sheriffs.
Mr Henry Coventry.] He supposes you indemnify such
as have acted upon ambiguity of the words; if the person hath offered payment, and by stubborness of the
person distrained, he will not take it again, hopes you
will not punish the officer.
Mr Steward.] Would not have a Law brought in by
way of parenthesis, but would have a Law, in all its
Formalities, expressly made.
[Resolved, That the additional Bill against Conventicles be
[March 23 and 24 omitted. Adjourned to the 27th.]
Monday, March 27, 1671.
[The Bill for laying an imposition on proceedings in Courts
of Law, and other Courts, was read the second time.]
Sir Robert Howard.] The same arguments for the imposition upon trade, as upon the Law; freedom of justice the same as freedom of ports. The poor Merchant
will suffer by the oppression of the rich, by the foreign
Bill, as well as the poor by the rich man, in point of
chargeableness of the Law—Could wish, as Powle said,
it could have the effect of lessening Law-suits. If any
man will frame arguments against taxes, there is sufficient against this as against all other taxes. We have
sunk much in the other Bills, and if you sink this, you
may do it to nothing.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Have you done once ill, and must
you do so again? If this will give little to the King,
and much trouble to the people, it is no matter what we
have sunk, for it was thought expedient by the King's
officers, as prejudicial to the former revenue, and therefore sunk—Pray God we can raise what we have given!
—We had better give 160,000l. any way than by this
Bill—Suppose it may be for eight or nine years, this is
not the Bill intended; it is perfectly a Bill of sealed paper—Here are vast penalties upon persons and offices set
up—Wishes it may be altogether laid aside, and some
other way by consent thought of.
Mr Boscawen.] Likes the Bill the worse for having an
office in the body of it—Would buy off his share of it
—Thinks it blacker than the Chimney-Bill—Looks upon
the Law of England to be five times more chargeable
than it was two hundred years since; and if you pass
this Bill, you shut the door for ever to reforming the Law
—The Hundred-Courts, Corporation, Tin-Courts, do
punish the country more than the Law itself, for the extravagance is such, that once in an age they must have
a reformation. There is no exception for those that
sue in formâ pauperis—This is like to Rehoboam, whose
little finger was heavier than his father's loins—No man
can find a more uncouth thing than this Bill, to put the
Kingdom to charge; it is unequal in itself. He that
mortgages pays as much as he that suffers a fine and recovery to alienate—Queen Elizabeth bought the fines out
of Lord Leicester's executors hands, as grievous to the
subject—You confirm all the Chancery practice, and
preclude a Parliament from ever considering. The House
of Commons is naturally to relieve the oppressed, and
now will the people say we rather oppress—Would pay
the money any other way.
Mr Attorney Finch.] Here is no man proposes an expedient instead of this Bill—From Parliament came the
King's revenue in the Alienation-Office, which was much
more before dissolution of Monasteries than now. Formerly the Law was in real action, but since the dissolution
of Monasteries, the way is by ejectione firmâ, and an English Bill, by reason of trusts, made the revenue much
less—The King may withdraw his seal for alienation, and
will a man think much to have this privilege granted
him?—Would not have the Clerk that cozens the King,
to cozen the person of his cause—Would not have an
Attorney lose his place for stealing a sixpenny writ, that
another officer may be in his place—Would have the Bill
committed, that these, and other things, may be remedied.
Mr Vaughan.] This Bill will deter men from justice;
when the market is too dear, a man will come home
barefoot rather than buy shoes. So you take from the
King, with one hand, what you give him with another;
to supply with a penny what you take away by a pound,
is a monstrous Bill. Our charges at Law are our greatest; you may as well expect figs from thistles, and
grapes from thorns. If we have imposed upon lands,
because we would leave nothing untouched, we raise
money on very justice. If he thought this Bill would
conduce to the King's advantage, he would not say a
word against it; but it looks not so much to supply the
King, as to impoverish the subjects—Thinks it so odious,
that it cannot be grateful to the King, and therefore
would have it thrown out.
Sir Robert Howard.] Many have great fees, and do
little; let them be charged, and the rest spared.
Colonel Birch.] Is not satisfied from any thing
he has heard yet. Some things will remedy themselves;
and if the charge of Law be left, because great, it is
what you desire. After people are weary at Law, they
refer it to some gentlemen in the country; after all physic is taken, then at last our own native fresh air—He
hears nothing proposed instead, and therefore would commit it.
Sir John Ernly.] Would rather have an additional duty
on foreign commodities—We shall reduce this Bill of
the Law to the terms of the Gospel; He that will sue
for my cloak, let him take my coat also; for he already, in
suing for 2000l. has spent as much before he could get
it; therefore would not have the Law more chargeable
than it is.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] This is the last Bill, and hopes
we shall not cool in it—Shall we, after six months Session, launch into the sea again of foreign commodities?
Merchants say it has its load; the Excise has its; the
land you think too heavy. Mr Attorney said, "it is one
of the most ancient duties that does belong to the Crown"
(the Fine and Alienation Office.) Make it as little burthensome as you can, and commit it.
Sir Robert Atkins.] Proposed a Clause for Commissioners to be joined with the Judges, to bring the Courts
to their ancient fees, and to reduce encroachments, and
determine the fees, and set them up in tables where they
may be resorted to, which will sweeten the Bill, that it
may be acceptable to the people.
[Resolved, That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the
[March 28 and 29 omitted.]
Thursday, March 30.
[Mr Crouch reports from the Committee, to which the additional Bill against Conventicles was re-committed, some Amendments, agreed to by the Committee, to be made to the Bill. A
Clause being tendered, to forbear the imposing of the Clauses
in the Act of Uniformity, for subscribing a form of Assent and
Consent, and abjuring the Covenant; and being to repeal part
of an Act, and brought in without leave; the question being
put, That leave be given to bring in a Proviso of this nature,
it passed in the Negative. The question then was put, That
were be an addition for the offenders against the Act, to be included in the clause of indemnity, as well as those that have
Mr Waller.] Great reason not to permit people into a
Church, who are against it. Does not remember that
amongst the reasons for growth of Popery, he finds want
of union amongst Protestant subjects, all the world over.
These Bills have driven men out of the Kingdom, and
not into the Church—Some of Paul, and some of Apollos,
but St Paul was pleased they were of Christ—Italian policy spread the Prayers, Bible, and Creed, in Latin, an
unknown tongue (all colours being alike in the dark.)—
Our Reformers, an hundred years ago, translated the Bible, that the people might read and judge, and so differences came, and in some measure you must bear with
that in judging. Something of Indemnity in this Bill.
The Speaker told us of Pardon, to be but once read.
This Indemnity remits rights of fellow subjects, one against another, after great concussions and civil wars. At
Athens the Romans had got an amnesty; so we after the
war. These men have their houses taken; no man to be
sued; though goods taken away, no wrong done. Here
we take part with the injurious against the oppressed; if
reason for it, you must do it again—Imagines not the consequences, therefore would have the Bill recommitted.
Sir John Bramstone.] Does not take men to be Christians, unless they are so as our Saviour has appointed
them to be.
Mr Vaughan.] One said, "ensnared by ambiguity of
words" (Boscawen.) All prudent men act not when
there is not a clear Law in the case—This Clause of Indemnity will subject all your Laws; those fly to you that
have done things by colour of justice—Had they killed
a man, would you have indemnified them for acting in
Colonel Sandys.] The Judges are fit to be turned
out of their places for saying, some, it is Law, and
others, it is not Law; who must the country gentlemen fly to? If the Judges of the Law, bred up in ill
principles, are against a thing, hopes he may have an indemnity.
Mr Boscawen.] If you had made your Law so equal,
as that those who had overdone might have been punished, as well as those who are remiss, he would be
Mr Crouch.] You have made a Law to indemnify persons for Treasons, and Murders, and Robberies, &c.
this is for indemnifying persons for executing the Laws.
Suits are commenced upon account of this Law; you
are tied in justice to do it, therefore do it.
Sir Adam Brown.] Some Judges thought you must
break open doors, some not—Knows not what to do in
this case—If the Judges cannot then determine, you may
very well give an Indemnity. The Act saying "that we
cannot distrain for the King's part," distinct, but it
must be for the whole, and so doors cannot be broken
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Would have all that is passed on
both sides pardoned.
Sir Robert Carr.] They have once had an indemnity;
suppress them now, to be upon equal terms.
Mr Hampden.] It is but one man's opinion, that persons should, by an Indemnity for acting against Law,
do the same thing again. Our ancestors were of another opinion, and hopes we shall; for Judges differing in
opinion, a man may then let the thing alone. If the
Parliament hath omitted, shall it be justice to supply it?
The Subsidy-Bill will fall upon these men, and there are
many ambiguities in it, and shall the prudence of the
Commissioners supply it?—Thinks this will be the consequence.
Colonel Titus.] By indemnifying these people, you
make them in effect Law-makers; but you may keep
your Laws till you destroy your Government, if upon
all emergencies you must be bound up straitly to them,
as in the case of fire, &c.—Would have indemnity given
to both, and so encourage both sides.
Mr Attorney Finch.] The Indemnity is moved for over
and under-actors. The Indemnity to under-actors is as
if you were weary of your Law; that of over-actors as
if you would maintain it—Has no more to say to it.
Sir Job Charlton.] Wherever the King's part is to be
levied, the house may be broken; no Judge, he believes,
will be of a contrary opinion, though possibly doubtful
for the informers, and the poor's part. If you cast this
Clause out, you do in effect discourage all persons from
acting for the future. It is congruous to the Common
Law; for if an army be raised against the King, no
General ever yet was punished for exercising Martial
Mr Waller.] The peace of the Kingdom cannot be
concerned in five or six men. Something of Conscience
in the case—Empson and Dudley did not exceed the Law,
only put old Statutes in execution; and these you would
pardon for over-acting the Law.
It was afterwards moved, "That a Committee might be appointed to look into precedents relating to general pardons from
his Majesty, for that Justices of the Peace, and several other officers, might stand in need of it, and in severity might be called
in question, that so we might be out of reach of informers; it
would wonderfully quiet the minds of the people, and somewhat
sweeten this great Tax." To which it was answered by
Sir Thomas Clifford.] That pardons come always freely
from the King; and that King James denied a pardon
to the Commons, for its being asked of him.—Who
knows, whether, by asking so general a pardon as is discoursed of, it may not extend to the pardoning Lord Clarendon, Sandys, and Obrien?—Is persuaded that the King
thinks his Ministers do not desire a pardon.
[It was pressed to adjourn the Debate, but it went off silently
without a question (fn. 3) .]
March 31 omitted.