27. The Triennial Act.

[February 15, 1640/1. 16 Car. I. cap. I. Statutes of the Realm, v. 54. See Hist. of Engl. ix. 253, 362, 290.]

An Act for the preventing of inconveniences happening by the long intermission of Parliaments.

I. Whereas by the laws and statutes of this realm the Parliament ought to be holden at least once every year for the redress of grievances, but the appointment of the time and place for the holding thereof hath always belonged, as it ought, to His Majesty and his royal progenitors: and whereas it is by experience found that the not holding of Parliaments accordingly hath produced sundry and great mischiefs and inconveniences to the King's Majesty, the Church and Commonwealth; for the prevention of the like mischiefs and inconveniences in time to come:

II. Be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, with the consent of the Lord's spiritual and temporal, and the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, that the said laws and statutes be from henceforth duly kept and observed; and your Majesty's loyal and obedient subjects, in this present Parliament now assembled, do humbly pray that it be enacted: and be it enacted accordingly, by the authority of this present Parliament, that in case there be not a Parliament summoned by writ under the Great Seal of England, and assembled and held before the 10th of September, which shall be in the third year next after the last day of the last meeting and sitting in this present Parliament, the beginning of the first year to be accounted from the said last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament; and so from time to time, and in all times hereafter, if there shall not be a Parliament assembled and held before the 10th day of September, which shall be in the third year next after the last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament before the time assembled and held; the beginning of the first year to be accounted from the said last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament; that then in every such case as aforesaid, the Parliament shall assemble and be held in the usual place at Westminster, in such manner, and by such means only, as is hereafter in this present Act declared and enacted, and not otherwise, on the second Monday, which shall be in the month of November, then next ensuing. And in case this present Parliament now assembled and held, or any other Parliament which shall at any time hereafter be assembled and held by writ under the Great Seal of England, or in case any Parliament shall be assembled and held by authority of this present Act; and such Parliaments, or any of them, shall be prorogued, or adjourned, or continued by prorogation or adjournment, until the 10th day of September, which shall be in the third year next after the last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament, to be accounted as aforesaid; that then in every such case, every such Parliament so prorogued or adjourned, or so continued by prorogation or adjournment, as aforesaid, shall from the said 10th day of September be thenceforth clearly and absolutely dissolved, and the Lord Chancellor of England, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and every Commissioner and Commissioners, for the keeping of the Great Seal of England, for the time being, shall within six days after the said 10th day of September, in every such third year as aforesaid, in due form of law and without any further warrant or direction from His Majesty, his heirs or successors, seal, issue forth, and send abroad several and respective writs to the several and respective peers of this realm, commanding every such peer that he personally be at the Parliament to be held at Westminster on the second Monday which shall be in November next following the said 10th day of September, then and there to treat concerning the high and urgent affairs concerning His Majesty, the state and defence of the kingdom and Church of England; and shall also seal and issue forth, and send abroad several and respective writs to the several and respective sheriffs of the several and respective counties, cities and boroughs of England and Wales, and to the Constable of the Castle of Dover, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, or his lieutenant for the time being, and to the Mayor and Bailiffs of Berwick upon Tweed, and to all and every other officers and persons to whom writs have used to be directed, for the electing of the knights, citizens, barons and burgesses of and for the said Counties, Cities, Cinque Ports and Boroughs of England and Wales respectively, in the accustomed form, to appear and serve in the Parliament to be held at Westminster on the said second Monday, which shall be in November aforesaid; which said peers, after the said writs received, and which said knights, citizens, barons and burgesses chosen by virtue of the said writs, shall then and there appear and serve in Parliament accordingly. And the said Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, Commissioner and Commissioners aforesaid, shall respectively take a solemn oath upon the Holy Evangelists for the due issuing of writs, according to the tenor of this Act, in haec verba, —

'You shall swear that you shall truly and faithfully issue forth, and send abroad all writs of summons to Parliament for both Houses, at such time, and in such manner, as is expressed and enjoined by an Act of Parliament, entitled, "An Act for the preventing of inconveniences happening by the long intermission of Parliaments." '

Which oath is forthwith to be taken by the present Lord Keeper, and to be administered by the Clerk of the Crown to every Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, Commissioner and Commissioners aforesaid; and that none of the said officers respectively shall henceforth execute any the said offices before they have taken the said oath. And if the said Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, or any of the said Commissioners shall fail, or forbear so to issue out the said writs, according to the true meaning of this Act, then he or they respectively shall, beside the incurring of the grievous sin of perjury, be disabled, and become, by virtue of this Act, incapable, ipso facto, to bear his and their said offices respectively; and be further liable to such punishments as shall be inflicted upon him or them by the next, or any other ensuing Parliament. And in case the said Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, Commissioner or Commissioners aforesaid, shall not issue forth the said writs as aforesaid: or in case that the Parliament do not assemble and be held at the time and place before appointed, then the Parliament shall assemble and be held in the usual place at Westminster, in such manner, and by such means only, as is hereafter in this present Act declared and enacted, and not otherwise, on the third Monday which shall be in the month of January then next ensuing. And the peers of this realm shall by virtue of this Act be enabled, and are enjoined to meet in the Old Palace of Westminster, in the usual place there, on the third Monday in the said month of November: and they or any twelve or more of them, then and there assembled, shall on or before the last Monday of November next following the tenth day of September aforesaid, by virtue of this Act, without other warrant, issue out writs in the usual form, in the name of the King's Majesty, his heirs or successors, attested under the hands and seals of twelve or more of the said peers, to the several and respective sheriffs of the several and respective counties, cities, and boroughs of England and Wales; and to the Constable of the Castle of Dover, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, or his lieutenant for the time being, and to the Mayor and Bailiffs of Berwick upon Tweed; and to all and every other the said officers and persons to whom writs have been used to be directed, for the electing of the knights, citizens, barons and burgesses, of and for the said Counties, Cities, Cinque Ports and Boroughs, to be and appear at the Parliament at Westminster aforesaid, to be held on the third Monday in January then next following: all and every which writs the Clerks of the Petty Bag, and other clerks, to whom the writing of the writs for summons to the Parliament doth and shall belong, or whom the said Lords, or twelve or more of them shall appoint, shall at the command of the said Lords so assembled, or of any twelve or more of them, make and prepare ready for the signature of the said Lords, or any twelve or more of them, under pain of the loss of their places and offices, and of such other punishment as in the next, or any other ensuing Parliament, shall be inflicted on him or them: and it is enacted that the said writs so issued shall be of the same power and force to all intents and purposes, as the writs or summons to Parliament under the Great Seal of England have ever been or ought to be. And all the messengers of the Chamber or others who shall be appointed by the said Lords, or any twelve or more, are hereby required faithfully and speedily to deliver the said writs to every person and persons, sheriffs, officers, and others, to whom the same shall be directed: which if the said messengers or any of them shall fail to perform, they shall forfeit their respective places, and incur such other pains and punishments as by that or any other ensuing Parliament shall be imposed on them.

III. And it is also further enacted, that all and every the peers of this realm shall make their appearance, and shall assemble on the said third Monday in January, in such manner, and to such effect, and with such power, as if they had received every of them writs of summons to Parliament under the Great Seal of England, in the usual and accustomed manner. And in case the said Lords, or twelve or more of them, shall fail to issue forth such writs, or that the said writs do not come to the said several Counties, Cities, Cinque Ports and Boroughs, so that an election be not thereupon made; and in case there be not a Parliament assembled and held before the 23rd day of the said month of January, and so from time to time, and in all times hereafter, if there shall not be a Parliament assembled and held before the said 23rd day of January, then in every such case as aforesaid the Parliament shall assemble, and be held in the usual place at Westminster, in such manner, and by such means only, as is hereafter in this present Act declared and enacted, and not otherwise, on the second Tuesday which shall be in the month of March next after the said 23rd day of January; at which Parliament the peers of this realm shall make their appearance, and shall assemble at the time and place aforesaid, and shall each of them be liable unto such pains and censures for his and their not appearing and serving then and there in Parliament, as if he or they had been summoned by writ under the Great Seal of England, and had not appeared and served; and to such further pains and censures, as by the rest of the peers in Parliament assembled they shall be adjudged unto.

IV. And for the better assembling of the knights, citizens, barons, and burgesses to the said Parliament, as aforesaid, it is further enacted, that the several and respective sheriffs of the several and respective Counties, Cities and Boroughs of England and Wales, and the Chancellors, Masters and Scholars of both and every of the Universities, and the Mayor and Bailiffs of the borough of Berwick upon Tweed, shall at the several courts and places to be held and appointed for their respective Counties, Universities, Cities and Boroughs, next after the said 23rd day of January, cause such knight and knights, citizen and citizens, burgess and burgesses of their said Counties, Universities, Cities and Boroughs respectively, to be chosen by such persons, and in such manner, as if several and respective writs of summons to Parliament, under the Great Seal of England, had issued, and been awarded. And in case any of the several Sheriffs, or the Chancellors, Masters and Scholars of either of the Universities, or the Mayor and Bailiffs of Berwick respectively, do not before ten of the clock in the forenoon of the same day wherein the several and respective courts and places shall be held or appointed for their several and respective Counties, Universities, Cities and Boroughs as aforesaid, begin and proceed on according to the meaning of this law, in causing elections to be made of such knight and knights, citizen and citizens, burgess and burgesses, of their said Counties, Universities, Cities and Boroughs as aforesaid, then the freeholders of each County, and the Masters and Scholars of every the Universities, and the citizens and others having voices in such election respectively, in each University, City and Borough, that shall be assembled at the said courts or places to be held, or appointed, as aforesaid, shall forthwith, without further warrant or direction, proceed to the election of such knight or knights, citizen or citizens, burgess or burgesses aforesaid, in such manner as is usual in cases of writs of summons issued and awarded.

V. And it is further enacted that the several and respective sheriffs of their several and respective counties, and the Constables of the Castle of Dover, and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, or his lieutenant for the time being respectively, shall after the said 23rd day of January, and before the 8th day of February then immediately next ensuing, award and send forth their precepts to the several and respective cities and boroughs within their several counties, and likewise unto the said Cinque Ports respectively, commanding them respectively to make choice of such citizen and citizens, barons, burgess and burgesses, to serve in the said Parliament, at the time and place aforesaid: which said Cities, Cinque Ports and Boroughs respectively, shall before the last day of the said month of February make election of such citizen and citizens, barons, burgess and burgesses, as if writs for summoning of a Parliament, under the Great Seal of England, has issued and been awarded. And in case no such precept shall come unto the said Cities, Cinque Ports and Boroughs respectively, by the time herein limited: or in case any precept shall come, and no election be made thereupon, before the said last day of February, that then the several citizens, burgesses, and other persons that ought to elect and send citizens, barons, and burgesses to the Parliament, shall on the first Tuesday in March then next ensuing the said last day of February make choice of such citizen and citizens, barons, burgess and burgesses, as if a writ of summons under the Great Seal of England had issued and been awarded, and precepts thereupon issued, to such Cities, Cinque Ports and Boroughs: which knights, citizens, barons and burgesses so chosen shall appear and serve in Parliament at the time and place aforesaid, and shall each of them be liable unto such pains and censures for his and their not appearing and serving then and there in Parliament, as if he or they had been elected and chosen by virtue of a writ under the Great Seal of England, and shall be likewise subject unto such further pains and censures for his and their not appearing and serving then and there in Parliament, as if he or they had been elected and chosen by virtue of a writ under the Great Seal of England, and shall be likewise subject to such further pains and censures as by the rest of the knights, citizens and burgesses assembled in the Commons House of Parliament, he or they shall be adjudged unto. And the sheriffs and other officers and persons to whom it appertaineth shall make returns, and accept and receive the returns of such elections in like manner as if writs of summons had issued, and been executed, as hath been used and accustomed: and in default of the sheriffs and other officers respectively, in not accepting or making return of such elections, it shall and may be lawful to and for the several freeholders, and other persons that have elected, to make returns of the knights, citizens, barons and burgesses by them elected, which shall be as good and effectual to all intents and purposes as if the sheriff or other officers had received a writ of summons for a Parliament, and had made such returns: and that such elections, precepts and returns shall be had and made at such times, by such persons, and in such manner, as before in this Act is expressed and declared, according to the true intent and meaning of this law; any writ, proclamation, edict, act, restraint, inhibition, order or warrant to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding. And in case any person or persons shall be so hardy to advise, frame, contrive, serve or put in execution any such writs, proclamation, edict, act, restraint, inhibition, order or warrant thereupon, then he or they so offending shall incur and sustain the pains, penalties and forfeitures limited, ordained and provided in and by the Statute of Provision and Premunire made in the 16th year of King Richard the Second, and shall from thenceforth be disabled, during his life, to sue and implead any person in any action real or personal, or to make any gift, grant, conveyance, or other disposition of any his lands, tenements, hereditaments, goods or chattels which he hath to his own use, either by act executed in his lifetime, or by his last will, or otherwise, or to take any gift, conveyance, or legacy to his own use: and if any Sheriff, Constable of the Castle of Dover, or Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, shall not perform his duty enjoined by this Act, then he shall lose and forfeit the sum of 1000, and every County, City, Cinque Port and Borough that shall not make election of their knights, citizens, barons and burgesses, respectively, shall incur the penalties following (that is to say) every County the sum of 1000, and every City, which is no County, 200, and every Cinque Port and Borough the sum of 100; all and every of which several forfeitures, and all other forfeitures in this Act mentioned, shall and may he recovered in any of the King's Courts of Record at Westminster, without naming the Christian name and surname of the said Mayor for the time being, by action of debt, bill, plaint or information, wherein no essoine, protection, wager of law, aid, prayer, privilege, injunction, or order of restraint, shall be in any wise prayed, granted or allowed, nor any more than one imparlance: and if any person after notice given that the action depending is grounded and prosecuted upon or by virtue of this Statute shall cause or procure any such action to be stayed or delayed before judgment by colour or means of any order, warrant, power or authority, save only of the court wherein such action as aforesaid shall be brought or depending, or after judgment had upon such action, shall cause or procure the execution of, or upon any such judgment, to be stayed or delayed by colour or means of any order, warrant, power or authority, save only by writ of error or attaint, that then the said persons so offending shall incur and sustain all and every the pains, penalties and forfeitures, limited, ordained and provided in and by the said Statute of Provision and Premunire, made in the 16th of King Richard the Second. And if any Lord Mayor of London shall at any time hereafter commence or prefer any such suit, action or information, and shall happen to die or be removed out of his office before recovery and execution had, that yet not such action, suit or information, sued, commenced or preferred, shall by such displacing or death be abated, discontinued or ended, but that it shall and may be lawful to and for the Lord Mayor of the City of London next succeeding in that office and place, to prosecute, pursue and follow all and every such action, bill, plaint or information for the causes aforesaid, so hanging and depending in such manner and form, and to all intents and purposes, as that Lord Mayor might have done, which first commenced or preferred the same. The fifth part of all and every the forfeitures in this Act mentioned, shall go and be, to, and for the use and behoof of the City of London, and the other four parts and residue to be employed and disposed to, and for such only uses, intents and purposes as by the knights, citizens and burgesses in Parliament assembled, shall be declared, directed and appointed. Provided that in case the freeholders of any County and inhabitants, or other persons having or claiming power to make election of any knights, citizens, barons or burgesses, shall proceed to making of election of their knights, citizens, barons and burgesses, which election shall afterwards fall out to be adjudged or declared void in law by the House of Commons, by reason of equality of voices or misdemeanour of any person whatsoever, then the said County, City, Cinque Port or Borough shall not incur the penalties in this law, so as an election de facto be made.

VI. And it is further enacted, that no Parliament henceforth to be assembled shall be dissolved or prorogued within fifty days at least after the time appointed for the meeting thereof, unless it be by assent of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, and of both Houses in Parliament assembled; and that neither the House of Peers nor the House of Commons shall be adjourned within fifty days at least after the meeting thereof, unless it be by the free consent of every the said Houses respectively.

VII. And be it further enacted and declared by authority of this present Parliament, that the Peers to be assembled at any Parliament by virtue of this Act, shall and may from time to time, at any time during such their assembly in Parliament, choose and declare such person to be Speaker for the said Peers as they shall think fit. And likewise that the said knights, citizens and burgesses to be assembled at any Parliament by virtue of this Act, shall and may from time to time, at any time during such their assembly in Parliament, choose and declare one of themselves to be Speaker for the said knights, citizens and burgesses of the House of Commons assembled in the said Parliament as they shall think fit; which said Speakers, and every of them, as well for the said Peers as for the said House of Commons respectively, shall, by virtue of this Act, be perfect and complete Speakers for the said Houses respectively, and shall have as full and large power, jurisdiction and privileges, to all intents and purposes, as any Speaker or Speakers of either of the said Houses respectively, heretofore have had or enjoyed.

VIII. And it is further enacted and declared, that all Parliaments hereafter to be assembled by authority of this Act and every member thereof shall have and enjoy all rights, privileges, jurisdictions and immunities, as any Parliament summoned by writ under the Great Seal of England, or any member thereof might or ought to have; and all and every the members that shall be elected and chosen to serve in any Parliament hereafter to be assembled by authority of this Act as aforesaid, shall assemble and meet in the Commons House of Parliament, and shall enter into the same, and have voices in such Parliament before and without the taking of the several oaths of supremacy and allegiance, or either of them, any law or statute to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

IX. Provided always, that if the King's Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall at any time during any Parliament hereafter to be assembled by authority of this Act as aforesaid, award or direct any commission or commissions unto any person or persons whatsoever, thereby giving power and authority to him or them to take and receive the oath of supremacy and allegiance, of all or any the members of the Commons House of Parliament, and any the members of that House being duly required thereunto, shall refuse or neglect to take and pronounce the same, that from thenceforth such person so refusing or neglecting shall be deemed no member of that House, nor shall have any voice therein, and shall suffer such pains and penalties as if he had presumed to sit in the same House without election, return or authority.

X. And it is likewise provided and enacted, that this Statute shall be publicly read yearly at every General Sessions of the Peace, to be held next after the Epiphany, and every Assizes then next ensuing by the Clerk of the Peace and Clerk of the Assizes for the time being respectively. And if they or either of them shall neglect or fail to do the same accordingly, then such party so neglecting or failing shall forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds.

XI. And it is lastly provided and enacted, that His Majesty's royal assent to this Bill shall not thereby determine this present Session of Parliament,[1] and that all statutes and Acts of Parliament which are to have continuance unto the end of this present Session, shall be of full force after His Majesty's assent, until this present Session be fully ended and determined; and if this present Session shall determine by dissolution of this present Parliament, then all the Acts and statutes aforesaid shall be continued until the end of the first Session of the next Parliament.

[1] It was at that time the custom that the royal assent was given to Bills at the end of the Session, and it wag consequently argued that the assent put an end to the Session.


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