47. A Declaration of the House of Commons touching a late breach of their Privileges.

[January 17, 1641/2. Rushworth, iv. 484. See Journals of the House of Commons, ii. 373, 383.]

Whereas the chambers, studies and trunks of Mr. Denzil Holies, Sir Arthur Haslerigg, Mr John Pym, Mr. John Hampden and Mr. William Strode, Esquires, members of the House of Commons, upon Monday the third of this instant January, by colour of His Majesty's warrant, have been sealed up by Sir William Killigrew and Sir William Fleming and others, which is not only against the privilege of Parliament, but the common liberty of every subject; which said members afterwards the same day were under the like colour, by Serjeant Francis, one of His Majesty's serjeants-at-arms, contrary to all former precedents, demanded of the Speaker, sitting in the House of Commons, to he delivered unto him, that he might arrest them of high treason; and whereas afterwards, the next day His Majesty in his royal person came to the said House, attended with a great multitude of men, armed in warlike manner with halberds, swords and pistols, who came up to the very door of the House, and placed themselves there, and in other places and passages near to the said House, to the great terror and disturbance of the members then sitting, and according to their duty, in a peaceable and orderly manner, treating of the great affairs of England and Ireland; and His Majesty, having placed himself in the Speaker's chair, demanded of them the persons of the said members to be delivered unto him, which is a high breach of the rights and privileges of Parliament, and inconsistent with the liberties and freedom thereof; and whereas afterwards His Majesty did issue forth several warrants to divers officers, under his own hand, for the apprehension of the persons of the said members, which by law he cannot do; there being not all this time any legal charge or accusation, or due process of law issued against them, nor any pretence of charge made known to that House, all which are against the fundamental liberties of the subject and the rights of Parliament; whereupon we are necessitated according to our duty to declare, and we do hereby declare, that any person that shall arrest Mr. Holies, Sir Arthur Haslerigg, Mr. Pym, Mr. Hampden and Mr. Strode, or any of them, or any other members of Parliament by pretence or colour of any warrant issuing out from the King only, is guilty of the breach of liberties of the subject and of the privileges of Parliament, and a public enemy to the commonwealth; and that the arresting of the said members or any of them, or of any other member of Parliament, by any warrant whatsoever without a legal proceeding against them, and without consent of that House, whereof such person is a member, is against the liberty of the subject, and a breach of privilege of Parliament; and the person which shall arrest any of these persons, or any other members of the Parliament, is declared a public enemy of the commonwealth. Notwithstanding all which we think fit farther to declare, that we are so far from any endeavour to protect any of our members that shall be in due manner prosecuted according to the laws of the kingdom and the rights and privileges of Parliament for treason or any other misdemeanour, that none shall be more ready and willing than we ourselves to bring them to a speedy and due trial; being sensible that it equally imports us, as well to see justice done against them that are criminal as to defend the just rights and liberties of the subjects and Parliament of England.

And whereas, upon several examinations taken the 7th day of this instant January, before the committee appointed by the House of Commons to sit in London, it did fully appear that many soldiers, Papists and others, to the number of about five hundred, came with His Majesty on Tuesday last to the said House of Commons, armed with swords, pistols and other weapons, and divers of them pressed to the door of the said House, thrust away the door-keepers, and placed themselves between the said door and the ordinary attendants of His Majesty, holding up their swords, and ' some holding up their pistols ready cocked near the said door and saying, ' I am a good marksman; I can hit right, I warrant you,' and they not suffering the said door according to the custom of Parliament to be shut, but said they would have the door open, and if any opposition were against them, they made no question but they should make their party good, and that they would maintain their party; and when several members of the House of Commons were coming into the House, their attendants desiring that room might be made for them, some of the said soldiers answered, 'A pox of God confound them,' and others said, 'A pox take the House of Commons, let them come and be hanged, what ado is here with the House of Commons?' And some of the said soldiers did likewise violently assault, and by force disarm some of the attendants and servants of the members of the House of Commons waiting in the room next the said House, and upon the King's return out of the said House, many of them by wicked oaths and otherwise, expressed much discontent that some members of the said House for whom they came were not there, and others of them said, 'When comes the word?' And no word being given, at His Majesty's coming out they cried, ' A lane, a lane '; afterwards some of them being demanded what they thought the said company intended to have done, answered that, questionless, in the posture they were set, if the word had been given, they should have fallen upon the House of Commons and have cut all their throats. Upon all which we are of opinion, that it is sufficiently proved that the coming of the said soldiers, Papists and others, with His Majesty to the House of Commons on Tuesday last, being the 4th of this instant January, in the manner aforesaid, was to take away some of the members of the said House; and if they should have found opposition or denial, then to have fallen upon the said House in an hostile manner. And we do hereby declare, that the same was a traitorous design against the King and Parliament. And whereas the said Mr. Holies, Sir Arthur Haslerigg, Mr. Pym, Mr. Hampden, and Mr. Strode, upon report of the coming of the said soldiers, Papists and others, in the warlike and hostile manner aforesaid did, with the approbation of the House, absent themselves from the service of the House, for avoiding the great and many inconveniences which otherwise apparently[1] might have happened; since which time a printed paper, in the form of a Proclamation, bearing date the 6th day of this instant January hath issued out, for the apprehending and imprisoning of them, therein suggesting, that through the conscience of their own guilt they were absent and fled, not willing to submit themselves to justice; we do further declare, that the said printed paper is false, scandalous and illegal; and that, notwithstanding the said printed paper, or any warrant issued out, or any other matter yet appearing against them or any of them, they may and ought to attend the service of the said House of Commons and the several Committees now on foot; and that it is lawful for all persons whatsoever to lodge, harbour or converse with them or any of them; and whosoever shall be questioned for the same, shall be under the protection and privilege of Parliament.

And we do further declare, that the publishing of several articles purporting a form of a charge of high treason against Lord Kimbolton, one of the members of the Lords' House, and against the said Mr. Holies, Sir Arthur Haslerigg, Mr. Pym, Mr. Hampden and Mr. Strode, by Sir William Killigrew, Sir William Fleming and others of the Inns of Court, and elsewhere in the King's name, was a high breach of the privilege of Parliament, a great scandal to His Majesty and his government, a seditious act manifestly tending to the subversion of the peace of the kingdom, and an injury and dishonour to the said members, there being no legal charge or accusation against them.

That the privileges of Parliament and the liberties of the subjects so violated and broken, cannot be fully and sufficiently vindicated unless His Majesty will be graciously pleased to discover the names of those persons who advised His Majesty to issue out warrants for the sealing of the chambers and studies of the said members, to send a serjeant-at-arms to demand the said members, to issue out several warrants under His Majesty's own hand to apprehend the said members, His Majesty's coming thither in his own royal person, the publishing of the said articles and printed paper, in the form of a Proclamation, against the said members in such manner as is before declared, to the end that such persons may receive condign punishment.

And this House doth further declare, that all such persons as have given any counsel, or endeavoured to set or maintain division or dislike between the King and Parliament, or have listed their names or otherwise entered into any combination or agreement to the aiding or assisting to any such counsel or endeavour, or have persuaded any other so to do, or that shall do any the things above mentioned; and that shall not forthwith discover the same to either House of Parliament, or the Speaker of either of the said Houses respectively, and disclaim it, are declared public enemies of the State and peace of this kingdom, and shall be enquired of and proceeded against accordingly.

[1] I. e. evidently.

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