95. RECORDS OF THE SHORT PARLIAMENT (1640)

(A) Speech of the Lord Keeper (13 April)

My lords, and you, the knights, citizens, and burgesses of the house of commons: ... I doubt not but you rejoice at this day's meeting ...; and good reason you have so to do, and with all humbleness of heart to acknowledge the great goodness of his majesty who, sequestering the memory of all former discouragements in preceding assemblies, is now, out of a fatherly affection to his people and a confidence that they will not be failing in their duty to him, pleased graciously to invite you and all his loving subjects to a sacred unity of hearts and affection in the service of him and of the commonwealth, and in execution of those counsels that tend only to the honour of his majesty and to the good preservation of you all. His majesty's kingly resolutions are seated in the ark of his sacred breast, and it were a presumption of too high a nature for any Uzzah, uncalled, to touch it. Yet his majesty is now pleased to lay by the shining beams of majesty ... , that the distance between sovereignty and subjection should not bar you of that filial freedom of access to his person and counsel. Only let us ... ever remember that, though the king sometimes lays by the beams and rays of majesty, he never lays by majesty itself.

In former parliaments you have been advised for the preventing and diverting of those dangers which by foreign and remote counsels might have tended to the ruin and to the dishonour of this nation. Therein his majesty's great wisdom and providence hath, for many years, eased you of that trouble; his majesty having with great judgment and prudence, not only foreseen and prevented our dangers, but kept up the honour and splendour of the English crown, of which we all this day find a happy and comfortable experience.... But what avails this the kingdom? ... You are now summoned to counsels and resolutions that more nearly concern you — to prevent a danger and dishonour that knocks at our gates, and that moves from such from whom we had little reason to suspect it....

When his majesty had most reason to expect a grateful return of loyalty and obedience from all the Scottish nation, some men of Belial, some Shebahs, have blown the trumpet there, and by their insolencies and rebellious actions drawn many after them, to the utter desertion of his majesty's government.... They have taken up arms against the Lord's anointed, their rightful prince and undoubted sovereign ...; they have seized on the trophies of honour and invested themselves with the regal power and authority — such and so many acts of disloyalty and disobedience as, let their pretences be what they will be, no true English Christian heart but must acknowledge them to be the effects of foul and horrid treasons....

His majesty doth therefore desire you, upon these pressing and urgent reasons, that you will for a while lay aside all other debates, and that you would pass an act for such and so many subsidies as you, in your hearty affections to him and to the common good, shall think fit and convenient for so great an action; and withal that you would hasten the payment of it as soon as may be, with a proviso in the act that his majesty's royal assent shall not determine this session.... And his majesty is most graciously pleased to give you his royal word that ... he will give you time for considering of such petitions as you shall conceive to be good for the commonwealth....

Journals of the Lords, IV, 46 f.

(B) Speech of the Lord Keeper (22 April)

This day the lord keeper delivered to the house the effect of what was yesterday delivered, by the command of his majesty, at the meeting of the lords spiritual and temporal and the house of commons at Whitehall, viz.: "... That which I then delivered was, by his majesty's command, to this purpose — to put your lordships and the house of commons in mind of the cause of the calling of this parliament, which was for the supply of his majesty.... His majesty hath taken notice of some scruples that did remain in men's minds touching the shipping business. And for the clearing of those doubts and scruples ... , it was declared to your lordships, first, that the king never had it in his thought or heart to make any revenue of the shipping business, nor to make the least penny of profit or advantage to himself; that de facto he had not done it.... He hath no ends or aims for himself, nor hath he any thought but to keep up the glory and honour of this nation.... His majesty is not wedded to this particular way.... If your lordships and the house of commons will think of any other way to maintain him in such a manner as is fit for his majesty ... to live in, put it into what way you please; settle it with as much security and safety as you can invent, that you may be sure there can come nothing to the king but in that way, that you may be sure it shall be employed for your good and safety.... Nothing shall be propounded for the securing of the propriety of your estates and the liberties of your persons but his majesty will as graciously and readily grant the same as it is possible for you to ask it. His majesty doth bring with him wishes and royal desires that this may prove a happy and blessed parliament, and was pleased to put you into the way how to make it so; which was by putting obligations and trust and confidence upon his royal word, which it becomes us in duty and good manners fit for subjects to take from our king.... For there is a trust that must always be reposed in a king; and, when the king is pleased to declare himself so gracious and so free that he will perform this trust to the uttermost with royal heaped measure, it is the greatest security. No security of law, no other security that parliament can invent, can match it...."

Ibid., IV, 62 f.

(C) Proceedings in the Commons (23-24 April)

Mr. Lenthall reported from the committee of the whole house that the committee had resolved upon the question that we shall consult with the lords to prevent innovation in matter of religion and concerning the property of our goods and liberties and privileges of parliament, the better to give a present supply to his majesty. Upon this report it was ordered, upon the question, that we shall consult with the lords, to prevent innovation in matter of religion and concerning the property of our goods and liberties and privileges of parliament, the better to prepare us to give an answer to his majesty touching supply....

These heads following were by the committee, according to yesterday's order, brought in as inducements and matter for the conference to be desired with the lords ...:

I. Concerning innovation in matter of religion. (1) The commission that was lately granted to the convocation house.... (2) The complaints arising from petitions brought in from the several counties by the members of the house against innovations in religion. (3) The molesting and depriving of godly and conformable ministers for not yielding to matters enjoined without warrant of law. (4) The publishing of papist tenets in licensed books, sermons, and disputations. (5) Restraining of conformable ministers from preaching in their own charges.

II. Concerning propriety of goods. (1) Monopolies and restraint of trade. (2) Ship money. (3) Enlarging the bounds of forests.... (4) Military charges: namely, coat and conduct money, wages, arms taken from the owners, forcing the countries to buy or provide at their charges horses and carts by way of tax. (5) The denial of justice in the courts at Westminster to the subject's prejudice in point of the propriety of his goods. (6) Frequent imprisonments and vexations for non-payment of unwarrantable taxes and not submitting to unlawful monopolies.

III. Liberties and privileges of parliament. (1) Punishing men out of parliament for things done in parliament. (2) That which is already voted in the house concerning privilege of parliament....

Journals of the Commons, II, 10 f.

(D) The King's Speech and its Results (24-29 April)

"My lords: The necessity of calling this parliament makes me to come this day hither contrary to expectation. You remember what the lord keeper said concerning the occasion of this meeting the first and second days.... The house of commons did seem to take into consideration my weighty affairs; but they have in a manner concluded the contrary and, instead of preferring my occasions in the first place, they have held consultation of innovation of religion, property of goods, and privileges of parliament, and so have put the cart before the horse. If it were a time to dispute, I should not much stand upon it; but my necessities are so urgent that there can be no delay. If the house of commons will trust me, I will make good what I have promised by my lord keeper. As for religion, my heart and conscience with the religion now established in the Church of England shall go together. For the ship money, God is my witness I never converted any of it to my own profit, but to the end of preserving the dominion of the seas.... As for property of goods, it is a thing I never but intended; and it is my desire to be king of a free and rich people; and if no property in goods, no rich people. I told the commons that, if they would speedily supply my occasions for the present, I would give them further time at winter to present and debate all their just grievances. If they will not trust me first, all my business this summer will be lost; and before the year goeth about I must be trusted at last, for in the winter I must call them to give me a greater supply. If the house of commons will not join to prefer my occasions before their grievances, I conjure your lordships to consider your own honours and mine, and the preposterous course of the house of commons; and desire that your lordships will not join with them, but leave them to themselves.... If the supply come not in time, I will not say what mischief may and must follow."

... Their lordships taking into consideration that which his majesty delivered to them this morning ... , these two questions were agreed upon to be proposed to the house: —

First, as many of your lordships as are of opinion his majesty's supply should have precedency and be resolved of before any other matter whatsoever say Content.

[Second,] as many of your lordships as think fit there should be a conference desired with the house of commons to dispose them thereunto say Content....

Then the first question was put and carried by the Contents; and likewise the second question carried in like manner.

The lord keeper reported the conference with the house of commons ... to this effect. Mr. Pym did say he was commanded by the knights, citizens, and burgesses of the house of commons to represent to your lordships their desire and care to preserve a union and correspondence with your lordships.... The great privileges belonging to this high court of parliament are not airy and matters of pomp, but have in them reality and efficacy; whereby this great council of the kingdom is enabled to perform all those noble functions which belong to them in respect of the legislative power and conciliary power.... As there are general privileges belonging to the whole body, so there are others more peculiar belonging to either house.... Among these peculiar privileges there is one great privilege which was acknowledged by your lordships in the last conference — that the matter of subsidy and supply ought to begin in the house of commons.... Yet, after, you were pleased to declare that you have voted in your lordships' house that it was most necessary and fit that matter of supply should have the precedency of all other business and, this being done, your lordships would freely join with them in all things concerning matter of religion, propriety of goods, and liberty of parliament. Now, my lords, if you have voted this, you have not only meddled with matter of supply but, as far as in you lies, you have concluded both the matter and order of proceeding — which the house of commons takes to be a breach of their privilege; for which he was commanded to desire reparation from your lordships....

Journals of the Lords, IV, 66-73.

(E) Dissolution of Parliament (5 May)

His majesty came this day in person to the house, apparelled in his regal robes, and, having ascended his royal throne, the lords spiritual and temporal sitting in their robes uncovered, the house of commons were called in with their speaker. And being all present, his majesty was pleased to express his pleasure to them in these words following ...: —

"My lords: For my own part, I hope you remember what the first day of the parliament the lord keeper said to you in my name, what he said ... at the banqueting house at Whitehall, and what I said the last day myself. I named it to you, not in any doubt that you do not remember, but to show you that I never said anything that way in favour to my people but, by the grace of God, I will punctually and really perform it.... My lords, you know at the first I expressed myself by my lord keeper that delay was worse danger than refusing. I would not put this fault on all the whole house; I will not judge so uncharitably. But it hath been some few cunning and some ill-affectioned men that have been the cause of this misunderstanding. I shall only end as I began, giving your lordships thanks for the care you have had of my honour and affairs, desiring you to go on and assist me for the maintaining of government and the liberties of the people that they so much start at. For, my lords, no king in the world shall be more careful to maintain the propriety of their goods, the liberties of their persons, and true religion than I shall be. And now, my lord keeper, do as I have commanded you."

Then the lord keeper said: "My lords, and ye knights, citizens, and burgesses of the house of commons, the king's majesty doth dissolve this parliament."

Ibid., IV, 81.


More To Explore