75. ORDER FOR THE COUNCIL OF THE NORTH (1545)[1]

His majesty, much desiring the quietness and good governance of the people there, and for speedy and indifferent administration of justice to be had between party and party, intendeth to continue his right honourable council called the King's Council in the North Parts. And his highness, knowing the approved truth, wisdom, and experience of the said archbishop of York, with his assured discretion and dexterity in executing of justice, hath first appointed him to be president of the said council so established, and by these presents do give unto him the name and title of lord president of the said council; and with the said name, power and authority to call all such others as shall be named of the said council, at this time or hereafter, together, at all such seasons as he shall think the same expedient; and otherwise by his letters, when they shall be absent, to appoint them and every of them to do such things for the advancement of justice and for the repression and punishment of malefactors as, by the advice of such part of the said council as then shall be present with him, he shall think meet for the furtherance of his grace's affairs and the due administration of justice between his highness's subjects. And further, his majesty by these presents giveth unto the said lord president, in all counsel where things shall be debated at length for the bringing out of the most perfect sentence — which his majesty's pleasure is shall be observed in all cases where the same shall be such as may abide advisement and consultation — a voice negative, to the intent nothing shall pass but by his express commandment, consent, and order. And his highness also willeth and commandeth that all and every of the said councillors to be hereafter named shall exhibit to the said lord president as much honour, obedience, and reverent behaviour in all things (kneeling only excepted) as they would exhibit unto his own person if he were there present amongst them; and in like sort receive and execute all his precepts and commandments to be addressed unto them or any of them, for any matter touching his majesty or any process or thing to be done or served in his grace's name.

And to the intent the said president, being thus established as head and director of such council as his highness hath erected and established there for the purposes abovesaid, may be furnished with such assistants and members as be of wisdom, experience, gravity, and truth, meet to have the name of his grace's councillors, his majesty upon good advisement and deliberation hath elected and chosen these persons whose names ensue hereafter to be his councillors joined in the said council in the north parts with the said president....[2]

His majesty ordaineth that [ten of these] ... shall give their attendance at their own pleasure; that is to say, go and come when their will is, unless they shall be otherwise by the said president appointed, saving only at four general sittings, where every of the said council shall be present unless they have some just necessary impediment to the contrary. And because it shall be convenient that a number shall be continually abiding with the said president, to whom he may commit the charge and hearing of such matters as shall be exhibited unto him for the more expedition of the same, by these presents his highness doth also ordain that [four of the sixteen] ... shall give their continual attendance upon the said president, or at the least two of them; so as none of this number appointed to give his continual attendance shall in any wise depart at any time from the said president without his special licence, and the same not to extend above six weeks at one season....[3]

And to furnish the said president and council in all things with authority sufficient and ready to execute justice, as well in causes criminal as in matters of controversy between party and party, his majesty hath commanded two commissions to be made out under his great seal of England, by virtue whereof they shall have full power and authority in either case to proceed as the matter occurrent shall require. And for the more speedy expedition to be used in all cases of justice, his majesty's pleasure is that the said president and council shall cause every complainant and defendant that shall have to do before them to put their whole matter in their bill of complaint and answer, without replication, rejoinder, or other delay to be had or used therein.... To which president and council the king's majesty by these presents doth give full power and authority, as well to punish such persons as in anything shall neglect or contemn their commandments, as all other that shall speak any seditious words, invent rumours, or commit any such offences, not being treason, whereof any inconvenience might grow, by pillory, cutting their ears, wearing of papers, or otherwise at their discretions; and to poor suitors having no money, at their discretions to appoint counsel and other requisites without paying of any money for the same. And likewise his highness giveth full power and authority to the said president and council being with him, to cess fines of all persons that shall be convict of any riots, how many soever they be in number, unless the matter of such riot shall be thought unto them of such importance as the same shall be meet to be signified unto his majesty, and punished in such sort, by the order of his council attendant upon his person, as the same may be noted for an example to others, and semblably, his grace giveth full power and authority unto them by their discretions to award costs and damages, as well to the plaintiff as to the defendants, and execution of their decrees; all which decrees the said secretary shall be bounden, incontinently upon the promulgation of every of the same, to write or cause to be written fair in a book, which book shall remain in the hands and custody of the said president....

And if it shall chance that the said president and council shall be variant in opinion, either in law or for any order to be taken upon any fact, that like as if the case be not of very great importance, that part wherein shall be the greater number of the councillors appointed to give continual attendance shall determine, or else, if they be of like number, that part whereunto the president shall consent and lean, who in all causes as is aforesaid shall ever have a voice negative; so being the case of great importance, if the question be of the law, the said president and council shall signify the case to the judges at Westminster, who shall with diligence advertise them again of their opinions in it. And if it be an order to be taken upon the fact, the said president and council shall in that case advertise the king's majesty, or his council attendant upon his person, upon the same; whereupon they shall have knowledge how to use themselves in that behalf....

State Papers, Henry VIII, V, 402 f.


[1] See especially R. R. Reid, The King's Council in the North.

[2] Sixteen men are named.

[3] Salaries, lodgings, and servants are assigned to the councillors.


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