20. The King's Case laid before the Judges, with their Answer.[1]

[February 7, 1637. Rushworth, ii. 355. See Hist. of Engl. viii. 207.] Carolus Rex.

When the good and safety of the kingdom in general is concerned, and the whole kingdom in danger, whether may not the King, by writ under the Great Seal of England, command all the subjects of our kingdom at their charge to provide and furnish such a number of ships, with men, victuals, and munition, and for such time as we shall think fit for the defence and safeguard of the kingdom from such danger and peril, and by law compel the doing thereof, in case of refusal or refractoriness: and whether in such a case is not the King the sole judge both of the danger, and when and how the same is to be prevented and avoided?

May it please your Most Excellent Majesty, We have, according to your Majesty's command, every man by himself, and all of us together, taken into serious consideration the case and question signed by your Majesty, and inclosed in your royal letter; and we are of opinion, that when the good and safety of the kingdom in general is concerned, and the kingdom in danger, your Majesty may, by writ under the Great Seal of England, command all your subjects of this your kingdom, at their charge to provide and furnish such a number of ships, with men, victuals, and munition, and for such time as your Majesty shall think fit for the defence and safeguard of this kingdom from such danger and peril: and that by law your Majesty may compel the doing thereof in case of refusal, or refractoriness: and we are also of opinion, that in such case your Majesty is the sole judge both of the danger, and when and how the same is to be prevented and avoided.

John Bramston, George Croke, John Finch, Thomas Trevor, Humphry Davenport, George Vernon, John Denham, Francis Crawley, Richard Hutton, Robert Berkeley, William Jones, Richard Weston.

[1] An earlier opinion had been given by the Judges at Finch's instance in November, 1635 (Rushworth, iii. App. 249), to the following effect: —

'I am of opinion that, as when the benefit doth more particularly redound to the ports or maritime parts, as in case of piracy or depredations upon the seas, that the charge hath been, and may be lawfully imposed upon them according to precedents of former times; so when the good and safety of the kingdom in general is concerned, and the whole kingdom in danger (of which His Majesty is the only judge), then the charge of the defence ought to be borne by all the realm in general. This I hold agreeably both to law and reason.'


Contents | Home | Constitution Society

Popular Pages