(A) Opening of Parliament (1559)[1]

[25 January.] The knights, citizens, and burgesses of the house of commons remained sitting in their own house till notice was brought them ... that her majesty, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the residue were set in the upper house expecting their repair thither. Whereupon they went up immediately unto the said house and ... Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper ... , went and stood behind the cloth of estate on the right hand and there spake as followeth, viz.: "My lords and masters all, the queen's most excellent majesty, our natural and most gracious sovereign lady, having as you know summoned hither her high court of parliament, hath commanded me to open and declare the chief causes and considerations that moved her highness thereunto.... The immediate cause of this summons and assembly be consultations, advice, and contentation. For although divers things that are to be done here in parliament might by means be reformed without parliament, yet the queen's majesty ... , reposing herself not a little in your fidelities, wisdoms, and discretions, meaneth not at this time to make any resolutions in any matter of weight before it shall be by you sufficiently and fully debated, examined, and considered. Now the matters and causes whereupon you are to consult are chiefly and principally three points. Of those the first is of well-making of laws, for the according and uniting of these people of the realm into an uniform order of religion, to the honour and glory of God, the establishing of the Church, and tranquillity of the realm. The second [is] for the reforming and removing of all enormities and mischiefs that might hurt or hinder the civil orders and policies of this realm. The third and last is advisedly and deeply to weigh and consider the estate and condition of this realm and the losses and decays that have happened of late to the imperial crown thereof; and therefore to advise the best remedies to supply and relieve the same...."

Whereupon, the knights, citizens, and burgesses, departing to their own house, did there take their several places; and, most remaining silent or speaking very submissively, Mr. Treasurer of the queen's house, standing up uncovered, did first put the house in remembrance of the lord keeper's late speech, and of his declaration of her majesty's pleasure, that they should choose a speaker. And therefore, in humble obedience to her majesty's said pleasure, seeing others remain silent, he thought it his duty to take that occasion to commend to their choice Sir Thomas Gargrave, knight, one of the honourable council in the north parts, a worthy member of the house, and learned in the laws of this realm; by which commendations of his, of the aforesaid worthy member of the house to their consideration, he said he did not intend to debar any other there present from uttering their free opinions and nominating any other whom they thought to be more fitting; and therefore desired them to make known their opinions. Who thereupon did with one consent and voice allow and approve of Mr. Treasurer's nomination, and elected the said Sir Thomas Gargrave to be the prolocutor or speaker of the said house.

The said Sir Thomas Gargrave, being thus elected speaker, after a good pause made, stood up uncovered; and, having in all humility disabled himself, as being unfurnished with that experience and other qualities which were required for the undertaking and undergoing of so great a charge, did conclude with an humble request to the house, to proceed to the new election of some other more able and worthy member amongst them. But, the house still calling upon him to take his place of Mr. Speaker, the before-mentioned Mr. Treasurer and Mr. Comptroller of her majesty's household ... did rise from their places and, going unto the said Sir Thomas Gargrave unto the place where he sat, did each of them take him, one by the right arm and the other by the left, and led him to the chair at the upper end of the house of commons, and there placed him. Where having sat a while covered, he arose and so, standing bare-headed, he returned his humble thanks unto the whole house for their good opinion of him, promising his best and uttermost endeavour for the faithful discharge of that weighty place to which they had elected him.

[28 January.] The knights, citizens, burgesses, and barons of the house of commons, having notice about one of the clock in the afternoon ... that her majesty, the lord keeper, and divers lords spiritual and temporal were set in the upper house expecting their attendance, they repaired immediately thither with Sir Thomas Gargrave, knight, their speaker elect.... The said Sir Thomas Gargrave was led up to the rail or bar at the lower end of the said house ... , where, after three reverences made to her majesty, he modestly and submissively excused himself as being unable to undergo the many and great difficulties of that place to which ... he had been chosen.... But, notwithstanding all these reasons and excuses according to the usual form ... , Sir Nicholas Bacon ... , by her majesty's commandment ... , assured him of the queen's acceptance and admission of him....

Upon which speech of the lord keeper's, Sir Thomas Gargrave humbly submitting himself to the undergoing of the charge ... , made a discreet and submissive answer.... Then he proceeded to many hearty prayers and feeling expressions of the good success of the parliament.... And lastly he came, according to the usual form, first to desire liberty of access for the house of commons to the queen's majesty's presence upon all urgent and necessary occasions. Secondly ... , if in anything himself should mistake or misreport or over-slip that which should be committed unto him to declare, that it might, without prejudice to the house, be better declared, and that his unwilling miscarriage therein might be pardoned. Thirdly, that they might have liberty and freedom of speech in whatsoever they treated of, or had occasion to propound and debate in the house. The fourth and last, that all the members of the house, with their servants and necessary attendants, might be exempted from all manner of arrests and suits during the continuance of the parliament and the usual space, both before the beginning and after the ending thereof, as in former times hath always been accustomed....

To which speech of the said speaker the lord keeper, without any long pausing, replied again in manner and form following: ... "To these petitions the queen's majesty hath commanded me to say unto you that her highness is right well contented to grant them unto you, as largely, as amply, and as liberally as ever they were granted by any her noble progenitors; and to confirm the same with as great an authority. Marry, with these conditions and cautions: first, that your access be void of importunity, and for matters needful, and in time convenient; for the second, that your diligence and carefulness be such, Mr. Speaker, that the defaults in that part be as rare as may be, whereof her majesty doubteth little; for the third, which is for liberty of speech, therewith her highness is right well contented, but so as they be neither unmindful or uncareful of their duties, reverence, and obedience to their sovereign; for the last, great heed would be taken that no evil-disposed person seek of purpose that privilege for the only defrauding of his creditors and for the maintenance of injuries and wrongs. These admonitions being well remembered, her majesty thinketh all the said liberties and privileges well granted...."

D'Ewes, Journal, pp. 11-40.

(B) Procedure on a Bill (1559)

[3 February.] ... The clerk of the said house, having read the title and the bill aforesaid, standing, kissing his hand, delivered the same, with a breviate containing the substance of the bill annexed unto it, unto the speaker; who thereupon, standing up uncovered and reading both the title and the breviate, said, "This is the second reading." And then, having paused a while, and ... none speaking against the bill, he put the question for the committing thereof, as followeth, vis.: "As many as do think fit this bill should be committed say Yea"; and after the affirmative voice given, "As many as shall think the contrary say No." And then ... the speaker, judging that the affirmative voice was the greatest, did put the house in mind to name committees. And thereupon every one of the house that listed did name such other members of the same, to be of the committee, as they thought fit.... And when a convenient number of the committees named were set down by the clerk, then did the speaker move the house to name the time and place when and where they should meet, which the clerk did also doubtless then take a note of, and did also (silence being made in the house) read out of that book or paper (in which he entered them) the committees' names, with the time and place of their meeting....

[7 February.] The clerk of the house, standing up, read the title and the bill aforesaid and, kissing his hand, delivered the same unto the speaker. Who, standing up uncovered, read again the title of the said bill and opened shortly the effects thereof, and then said, "This is the third reading of this bill"; and told them further that with their favour he would now put it to the question for the passing, but paused a while to see if any member of the house would speak unto it.... And whether any of the said house spake unto the said bill or not doth not appear. But the speaker, holding the bill in his hand, made the question for the passing of it in this sort, viz.: "As many as are of the mind that the bill shall pass say Yea." Which being answered accordingly by the house, or the greatest part of them, the bill passed; and so he delivered it again unto the clerk who, because the bill was originally begun and first passed in the house of commons, wrote within the said bill, on top of it towards the right hand, these words, vis.: Soit baillé aux seigneurs.[2]

Ibid., pp. 44 f.

(C) Speech of the Lord Keeper on the Administration of Justice (1559)

... Is it not great fondness, trow you, for men to use their endeavours to make good laws to govern men's doings and to weed out those that be evil in the commonwealth, and thereupon to bind them fair in books, and to lay them up without seeing to the execution of those laws? Yes, surely. Wherefore ye see that, as there hath been used by you great wisdom and discretion in devising of some, so it is very necessary that like diligence and pains be taken by you and others to see the good execution of all. The effect of which charge consisteth principally in three points: the first in conservation of the queen's peace; the second in administration of justice between subject and subject; and the third in the observation of one uniform order in religion according to the laws now established.

For the first, ye are to foresee all manner of frays, forces, riots, and routs, and the discovering and repealing in time of all manner of conspiracies, confederacies, and conventicles. And in this part also you are to provide for the swift and speedy appeasing of all manner of tumults, stirs, and uproars, if any happen; and for the diligent searching out and severe punishment of all manner of felonies, burglaries, and all other like enormities — matters, as you know, against the queen's majesty's peace, crown, and dignity. For the well-doing whereof two things are chiefly to be eschewed: the one is slothfulness; the other is uncarefulness. For how can justice banish these enormities, where her ministers be so slothful that they will never creep out of their doors to any courts, sessions, or assizes for the due administration thereof, except they be drawn thereunto with some matters of their own; nor cannot endure to have their ears troubled with the hearing of controversies of their neighbours, for the good appeasing of the same? Or how can the uncareful man that maketh no account of any of the common causes of his country, but respecteth only his private matters and commodities, become a just and diligent searcher out, follower, and corrector of felonies, murders, and suchlike common enemies to the commonwealth? And yet true it is that such careless and slothful men do daily colour and cloak these their faults with the title of quietness....

For the second, you are to provide that all embracers, maintainers, and champerties,[3] which be utter enemies to the due execution of justice between subject and subject, be neither committed by any of you nor, as near as you can, be suffered to be committed by any other — a very behoveful matter to be both carefully and earnestly looked unto, as the root and seed of all justice, and especially if any of these faults light upon any person that hath authority or rule in the country or hath any office of justice to execute among the people. Is it not, trow you, a monstrous disguising to have a justicer a maintainer; to have him, that should by his oath and duty set forth justice and right, against his oath and duty to offer injury and wrong; to have him, that is specially chosen amongst a number by the prince to appease all brablings and controversies, to be a sower and maintainer of strife and sedition, amongst them seeking his reputation and opinion by leading and swaying of juries according to his will — acquitting some for gain, indicting others for malice; bearing with him as his servant, overthrowing the other as his enemy; procuring all questmongers to be of his livery, or otherwise in his danger, that his winks, frowning, and countenance may direct all inquests? Surely, surely, it is true that these be they that be subverters and perverters of all laws and orders; yea, that make daily the laws, that of their own nature be good, to become instruments of mischief. These indeed be they of whom such examples would be made and the founders and maintainers of all enormities. And these be those, whom if you cannot reform for their greatness, yet ought you to complain of their villainies. And thus much for the due administration of justice....

Ibid., pp. 33 f.

(D) A Day's Business in the Commons (1563)

[8 March.] On Monday, the 8th day of March, three bills had each of them one reading; of which the first, being the bill that St. Katherine's Church shall be a parish church, and the second, for the repairing and mending of highways, were read the third time and passed the house, and were sent up to the lords by Mr. Comptroller. Mr. Attorney brought from the lords three bills, of which one was the bill for denizens' children. The bill also against the unlawful taking of fish, deer, or hawks was read the third time and passed. Post Meridiem. In the afternoon eight bills had each of them one reading; of which one was the bill for the subsidy of the clergy. Richard Parrott, gentleman, burgess for Sandwich, for his sickness was licensed to be absent.

Ibid., p. 87.

(E) Procedure on a Request for Supply (1566)

[17 October.] ... Sir Edward Rogers, knight, comptroller of her majesty's household, moved the house to have consideration of the queen's majesty's late great and extraordinary expenses, to proportion out some supply accordingly. And thereupon Sir William Cecil, knight, her highness' principal secretary, made an excellent declaration of the queen's great charges in defending New Haven in France, in repairing and increasing the navy and munition, her charges also against John O'Neill in Ireland. And immediately thereupon all the privy council being members of this house, the master of the rolls, and forty others of the house, whose names are omitted through the negligence of the clerk, were nominated and appointed to consider of the rate and payment of some supply and aid to be given to her majesty, and ordered to meet to-morrow in the afternoon, in the star chamber.

Ibid., p. 124.

(F) Debate on Freedom of Speech (1566)[4]

[9 November.] ... Sir Francis Knolles, knight, her majesty's vice-chamberlain, declared the queen's majesty's express commands to this house that they should no further proceed in their suit, but to satisfy themselves with her highness' promise of marriage. After whom Mr. Secretary Cecil and Mr. Comptroller severally rehearsed the like matter....

[11 November.] ... Paul Wentworth, a burgess of the house, by way of motion desired to know whether the queen's command and inhibition, that they should no longer dispute of the matter of succession ... , were not against the liberties and privileges of the said house. And thereupon arose divers arguments, which continued from nine of the clock in the morning till two of the clock in the afternoon. But then, because the time was far spent, all further debate and reasoning was deferred until the next morning....

[12 November.] Mr. Speaker, being sent for to attend upon the queen's majesty at the court, about nine of the clock, sent word to the house where he was, requiring the house to have patience; and at his coming, after ten of the clock, began to show that he had received a special command from her highness to this house, notwithstanding her first commandment, that there should not be further talk of that matter in the house (touching the declaration of a successor, in case that her majesty should die without issue), and if any person thought himself not satisfied, but had further reasons, let him come before the privy council and there show them....

[25 November.] ... Mr. Speaker, coming from the queen's majesty, declared her highness' pleasure to be that, for her good will to the house, she did revoke her two former commandments, requiring the house no further to proceed at this time in the matter. Which revocation was taken of all the house most joyfully, with most hearty prayer and thanks for the same....

Ibid., pp. 128-30.

(G) Speech of the Queen (1567)

[2 April.] ... Then the queen, standing up, said (after she had given her royal assent unto nineteen public acts, and thirteen private): "My lords and others the commons of this assembly, although the lord keeper hath, according to order, very well answered in my name, yet as a periphrasis I have a few words further to speak unto you, notwithstanding I have not been used nor love to do it in such open assemblies. Yet now, not to the end to amend his talk, but remembering that commonly princes' own words be better printed in the hearers' memory than those spoken by her command, I mean to say thus much unto you. I have in this assembly found so much dissimulation, where I always professed plainness, that I marvel thereat — yea, two faces under one hood (and the body rotten) being covered with two vizors, succession and liberty, which they determined must be either presently granted, denied, or deferred. In granting whereof, they had their desires; and denying or deferring thereof (those things being so plaudable as indeed to all men they are) they thought to work me that mischief which never foreign enemy could bring to pass, which is the hatred of my commons. But, alas, they began to pierce the vessel before the wine was fined; and began a thing, not foreseeing the end, how by this means I have seen my well-willers from mine enemies, and can, as me seemeth, very well divide the house into four: first, the broachers and workers thereof, who are in the greatest fault; secondly, the speakers, who by eloquent tales persuaded others, are in the next degree; thirdly, the agreers, who, being so light of credit that the eloquence of the tales so overcame them, that they gave more credit thereunto than unto their own wits; and lastly, those that sat still mute and meddled not therewith, but rather wondered, disallowing the matter, who in my opinion are most to be excused. "But do you think that either I am unmindful of your surety by succession, wherein is all my care, considering I know myself to be mortal? No, I warrant you. Or that I went about to break your liberties? No, it was never in my meaning; but to stay you before you fell into the ditch. For all things have their time. And although perhaps you may have after me one better learned or wiser; yet, I assure you, none more careful over you. And therefore henceforth, whether I live to see the like assembly or no, or whoever it be, yet beware however you prove your prince's patience, as you have now done mine. And now to conclude, all this notwithstanding (not meaning to make a Lent of Christmas), the most part of you may assure yourselves that you depart in your prince's grace." ...

Ibid., pp. 116 f.

(H) Debate on Freedom of Speech (1571)

[20 April.] ... Mr. Wentworth, very orderly, in many words remembered the speech of Sir Humphrey Gilbert delivered some days before. He proved his speech (without naming him) to be an injury to the house; he noted his disposition to flatter and fawn on the prince, comparing him to the chameleon, which can change himself into all colours saving white. "Even so," said he, "this reporter can change himself to all fashions but honesty." He showed further the great wrong done to one of the house by a misreport made to the queen (meaning Mr. Bell); he showed his speech to tend to no other end than to inculcate fear into those which should be free. He requested care for the credit of the house and for the maintenance of free speech (the only means of ordinary proceedings), and to preserve the liberties of the house, to reprove liars, inveighing greatly out of the Scriptures and otherwise against liars — as this of David, "Thou, O Lord, shall destroy liars," etc.

Mr. Treasurer signified his desire to have all things well, saying he could not enter into judgment of any; but he said it was convenient ill speeches should be avoided, and the good meaning of all men to be taken, without wresting or misreporting, and the meaning of all men to be showed in good sort without unseemly words.

Mr. Speaker endeavoured an agreement and unity in the house, making signification that the queen's majesty had in plain words declared unto him that she had good intelligence of the orderly proceeding among us; whereof she had as good liking as ever she had of any parliament since she came unto the crown, and wished we should give her no other cause than to continue the same; and added further her majesty's pleasure to be to take order for licences, wherein she had been careful, and more careful would be.

Mr. Carleton, with a very good zeal and orderly show of obedience, made signification how that a member of the house was detained from them (meaning Mr. Strickland), by whose commandment or for what cause he knew not. But forasmuch as he was not now a private man, but to supply the room, person, and place of a multitude specially chosen and therefore sent, he thought that neither in regard of the country, which was not to be wronged, nor for the liberty of the house, which was not to be infringed, we should permit him to be detained from us; but, whatsoever the intendment of this offence might be, that he should be sent for to the bar of that house, there to be heard, and there to answer.

Mr. Treasurer in some case gave advertisement to be wary in our proceedings, and neither to venture further than our assured warrant might stretch nor to hazard our good opinion with her majesty on any doubtful cause. Withal, he wished us not to think worse than there was cause. "For the man," quoth he, "that is meant is neither detained nor misused; but on considerations is required to expect the queen's pleasure upon certain special points" — wherein he said he durst to assure that the man should neither have cause to dislike or complain, since so much favour was meant unto him as he reasonably could wish. He further said that he was in no sort stayed for any word or speech by him in that place offered, but for the exhibiting of a bill into the house against the prerogative of the queen; which was not to be tolerated. Nevertheless, the construction of him was rather to have erred in his zeal and bill offered than maliciously to have meant anything contrary to the dignity royal. And lastly, he concluded that oft it had been seen that speeches have been examined and considered of....

Ibid., p. 175.

(I) Intervention by the Queen (1572)

[22 May.] ... Upon declaration made unto this house by Mr. Speaker from the queen's majesty, that her highness' pleasure is that from henceforth no bills concerning religion shall be preferred or received into this house, unless the same should be first considered and liked by the clergy; and further, that her majesty's pleasure is to see the two last bills read in this house touching rites and ceremonies: it is ordered by the house that the same bills shall be delivered unto her majesty by all the privy council that are of this house, Mr. Heneage, and Mr. Doctor Wilson, master of the requests, or by any four of them....

[23 May.] Mr. Treasurer reported to the house the delivery of the two bills of rites and ceremonies to her majesty, together with the humble request of this house, most humbly to beseech her highness not to conceive ill opinion of this house if it so were that her majesty should not like well of the said bills, or of the parties that preferred them; and declared further that her majesty seemed utterly to mislike of the first bill, and of him that brought the same into the house, and that her highness' express will and pleasure was that no preacher or minister should be impeached or indicted, or otherwise molested or troubled, as the preamble of the said bill did purport; adding these comfortable words farther, that her majesty, as defender of the faith, will aid and maintain all good Protestants to the discouraging of all Papists....

Ibid., p. 213 f.

(J) The Case of Peter Wentworth (1576)[5]

[8 February.] ... Peter Wentworth, esquire, one of the burgesses for the borough of Tregony in the county of Cornwall, was, for unreverent and undutiful words uttered by him in this house of our sovereign lady the queen's majesty, sequestered, that the house might proceed to conference and consideration of his said speech [which in part follows]: —

"Mr. Speaker, I find written in a little volume these words in effect: 'Sweet is the name of liberty, but the thing itself a value beyond all inestimable treasure.' So much the more it behooveth us to take care lest we, contenting ourselves with the sweetness of the name, lose and forgo the thing, being of greatest value that can come unto this noble realm. The inestimable treasure is the use of it in this house....

"I was never of parliament but the last, and the last session [of this parliament]; at both which times I saw the liberty of free speech, the which is the only salve to heal all the sores of this commonwealth, so much and so many ways infringed, and so many abuses offered to this honourable council, as hath much grieved me even of very conscience and love to my prince and state. Wherefore, to avoid the like, I do think it expedient to open the commodities that grow to the prince and whole state by free speech used in this place — at the least so much as my simple wit can gather of it, the which is very little in respect of that that wise heads can say therein; and so it is of the more force.

"First, all matters that concern God's honour through free speech, shall be propagated here and set forward, and all things that do hinder it removed, repulsed, and taken away.

"Next, there is nothing commodious, profitable, or any way beneficial for the prince or state, but faithful and loving subjects will offer it in this place.

"Thirdly, all things discommodious, perilous, or hurtful to the prince or state shall be prevented — even so much as seemeth good to our merciful God to put into our minds, the which no doubt shall be sufficient if we do earnestly call upon Him and fear Him; for Solomon saith, 'The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.' Wisdom, saith he, breatheth life into her children, receiveth them that seek her, and will go beside them in the way of righteousness; so that our minds shall be directed to all good, needful, and necessary things, if we call upon God with faithful hearts.

"Fourthly, if the envious do offer anything hurtful or perilous to the prince or state in this place, what incommodity doth grow thereby? Verily I think none. Nay, will you have me to say my simple opinion therein, much good cometh thereof. How forsooth? For by the darkness of the night the brightness of the sun showeth more excellent and clear. And how can truth appear and conquer until falsehood and all subtleties that should shadow and darken it be found out? For it is offered in this place a piece of fine needlework unto them that are most skilful therein; for there cannot be a false stitch (God aiding us) but will be found out.

"Fifthly, this good cometh thereof: a wicked purpose may the easier be prevented when it is known.

"Sixthly, an evil man can do the less harm when it is known. "Seventhly, sometime it happeneth that a good man will in this place (for argument sake) prefer an evil cause, both for that he would have a doubtful truth to be opened and manifested, and also the evil prevented; so that to this point I conclude that in this house, which is termed a place of free speech, there is nothing so necessary for the preservation of the prince and state as free speech. And without, it is a scorn and mockery to call it a parliament house; for in truth it is none, but a very school of flattery and dissimulation, and so a fit place to serve the devil and his angels in, and not to glorify God and benefit the commonwealth....

"Now to the impediments thereof.... Amongst other, Mr. Speaker, two things do great hurt in this place, of the which I do mean to speak. The one is a rumour which runneth about the house, and this it is: 'Take heed what you do; the queen's majesty liketh not such a matter; whosoever prefereth it, she will be offended with him' — (or the contrary) 'Her majesty liketh of such a matter; whosoever speaketh against it she will be much offended with him.' The other: sometimes a message is brought into the house either of commanding or inhibiting, very injurious to the freedom of speech and consultation. I would to God, Mr. Speaker, that these two were buried in hell — I mean rumours and messages; for wicked undoubtedly they are. The reason is the devil was the first author of them, from whom proceedeth nothing but wickedness. Now I will set down reasons to prove them wicked....

"The queen's majesty is the head of the law and must of necessity maintain the law; for by the law her majesty is made justly our queen and by it she is most chiefly maintained. Hereunto agreeth the most excellent words of Bracton, who saith, 'The king hath no peer nor equal in his kingdom.' He hath no equal, for otherwise he might lose his authority of commanding, sithence that an equal hath no rule of commandment over his equal. The king ought not to be under man, but under God and under the law, because the law maketh him a king. Let the king therefore attribute that to the law which the law attributeth unto him: that is, dominion and power; for he is not a king in whom will and not the law doth rule. And therefore he ought to be under the law...."

Upon this speech, the house, out of a reverend regard of her majesty's honour, stopped his further proceeding before he had fully finished his speech.... Mr. Wentworth being sequestered the house as aforesaid for his said speech, it was agreed and ordered by the house upon the question, after sundry motions and disputations had therein, that he should presently be committed to the serjeant's ward as prisoner and, so remaining, should be examined upon his said speech, for the extenuating of his fault therein, by all the privy council being of this house, the master of the requests, the captain of the guard, Mr. Treasurer of the Chamber, the master of the jewelhouse, the master of the wardrobe, Mr. Lieutenant of the Tower, Sir Thomas Scott, Sir Rowland Hayward, Mr. Attorney of the Duchy, Mr. Henry Knolles the elder, Mr. Sampoole, Mr. Randall, Mr. Birched, Mr. Marsh — who were appointed to meet this afternoon between two and three of the clock at the star chamber, and to make report at this house to-morrow next....,

Committee ...: "Here you have uttered certain rumours of the queen's majesty. Where and of whom heard you them?"

Wentworth: "If your honours ask me as councillors to her majesty, you shall pardon me: I will make you no answer. I will do no such injury to the place from whence I came; for I am now no private person. I am a public, and a councillor to the whole state in that place where it is lawful for me to speak my mind freely, and not for you as councillors to call me to account for anything that I do speak in the house. And therefore, if you ask me as councillors to her majesty, you shall pardon me: I will make no answer. But if you ask me as committees from the house, I will make you the best answer I can."

Committee: "We ask you as committees from the house."

Wentworth: "I will then answer you...."

[9 February.] This day Mr. Treasurer, in the name of all the committees yesterday appointed for the examination of Peter Wentworth, burgess for Tregony, declared that all the said committees did meet yesterday in the afternoon in the star chamber according to their commission; and there, examining the said Peter Wentworth touching the violent and wicked words yesterday pronounced by him in this house touching the queen's majesty, made a collection of the same words, which words, so collected, the said Peter Wentworth did acknowledge and confess. And then did the said Mr. Treasurer read unto the house the said note of collection. Which being read, he declared further that the said Peter Wentworth, being examined what he could say for the extenuating of his said fault and offence, could neither say anything at all to that purpose, neither yet did charge any other person as author of his said speech; but did take all the burden thereof unto himself. And so the said Mr. Treasurer thereupon moved for his punishment and imprisonment in the Tower as the house should think good and consider of. Whereupon, after sundry disputations and speeches, it was ordered upon the question that the said Peter Wentworth should be committed close prisoner to the Tower for his said offence, there to remain until such time as this house should have further consideration of him. And thereupon, immediately, the said Peter Wentworth, being brought to the bar by the serjeant, received his said judgment accordingly by the mouth of Mr. Speaker in form above-recited. And so Mr. Lieutenant of the Tower was presently charged with the custody of the said Peter Wentworth. But the said Peter Wentworth was shortly, by the queen's special favour, restored again to his liberty and place in the house....

Ibid., pp. 236-44.

(K) The Case of Arthur Hall (1581)[6]

[4 February.] ... Upon a motion made to this house by Mr. Norton, in which he declared that some person of late had caused a book to be set forth in print (not only greatly reproachful against some particular good members of this house of great credit, but also very much slanderous and derogatory to the general authority, power, and state of this house, and prejudicial to the validity of the proceedings of the same in making and establishing of laws: charging this house with drunkenness, as accompanied in their councils with Bacchus; and then also with choler, as those which had never failed to Anticyra; and the proceedings of this house to be opera tenebrarum) and further that, by the circumstance of the residue of the discourse of the said book, he conjectured the same to be done and procured by Mr. Arthur Hall, one of this house; and so prayed thereupon the said Mr. Hall might be called by this house to answer, and the matter further to be duly examined as the weight thereof, in due consideration of the gravity and wisdom of this house and of the authority, state, and liberty of the same, requireth: it is resolved that the said Mr. Hall be forthwith sent for by the serjeant-at-arms attending upon this house, to make his appearance here in that behalf accordingly.

And then immediately Mr. Secretary Wilson did thereupon signify unto this house that the said Mr. Hall had, upon his examination therein before the lords of the council, heretofore confessed in the hearing of the said Mr. Secretary that he did cause the said book to be printed indeed. Upon relation whereof, and after some speech then also uttered unto this house by Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, of the dangerous and lewd contents of the book, the serjeant was forthwith, by order of this house, sent to apprehend the said Arthur Hall, and presently assisted for that purpose with Sir Thomas Scott and Sir Thomas Browne, by the appointment of this house....

[14 February.] Mr. Vice-Chamberlain, for himself and the residue of the committees appointed to examine Mr. Hall, the printer, the scrivener, and all other persons privy to the setting forth and publishing of the book, declared that they had charged the said Mr. Hall with contempt against this house the last session.... Unto all which things ... the said Mr. Hall could make no reasonable answer or denial....

Mr. Hall was brought to the bar, where, after some reverence done by him (though not yet in such humble and lowly wise as the state of one in that place to be charged and accused requireth), whereof being admonished by Mr. Speaker and further by him charged with sundry of the said parts collected out of the said book, he submitted himself to the house, refusing to make any answer or defence at all in the matter; but, acknowledging his error, prayed pardon of the whole house with all his heart; and, that done, was sequestered.

After which, upon sundry motions and arguments had touching the quality and nature of his faults, and of some proportionable forms of punishment for the same (as imprisonment, fine, banishment from the fellowship of this house, and an utter condemnation and retraction of the said book), it was upon the question resolved by the whole house, without any one negative voice, that he should be committed to prison. And upon another question [it was] likewise resolved that he should be committed to the prison of the Tower, as the prison proper to this house. And upon another question it was in like manner resolved that he should remain in the said prison of the Tower by the space of six months, and so much longer as until himself should willingly make a retractation of the said book to the satisfaction of this house, or of such order as this house shall take for the same during the continuance of this present parliament. And upon another question it was also in like manner resolved that a fine should be assessed by this house, to the queen's majesty's use, upon the said Mr. Hall for his said offence. And upon another question it was also resolved in like manner that the said fine should be 500m. And upon another question also it was likewise resolved that the said Mr. Hall should presently be severed and cut off from being a member of this house any more during the continuance of this present parliament; and that Mr. Speaker, by authority of this house, should direct a warrant from this house to the clerk of the crown-office in the chancery for awarding of the queen's majesty's writ to the sheriff of the said county of Lincoln, for a new burgess to be returned into this present parliament for the said borough of Grantham in lieu and stead of the said Arthur Hall, so as before disabled any longer to be a member of this house....

Ibid., pp. 291 f.

(L) Peter Wentworth's Questions on Free Speech (1587)

On Wednesday, the first day of March, Mr. Wentworth delivered unto Mr. Speaker certain articles which contained questions touching the liberties of the house ...: —

Whether this council be not a place for any member of the same here assembled, freely and without controlment of any person or danger of laws, by bill or speech to utter any of the griefs of this commonwealth whatsoever touching the service of God, the safety of the prince, and this noble realm. Whether that great honour may be done unto God, and benefit and service unto the prince and state without free speech in this council which may be done with it. Whether there be any council which can make, add to, or diminish from the laws of the realm, but only this council of parliament. Whether it be not against the orders of this council to make any secret or matter of weight, which is here in hand, known to the prince or any other, concerning the high service of God, prince, or state, without the consent of the house. Whether the speaker or any other may interrupt any member of this council in his speech used in this house, tending to any of the forenamed high services. Whether the speaker may rise when he will, any matter being propounded, without consent of the house or not. Whether the speaker may overrule the house in any matter or cause there in question, or whether he is to be ruled or overruled in any matter or not. Whether the prince and state can continue, stand, and be maintained without this council of parliament, not altering the government of the state.

At the end, lastly, of the said speech and questions is set down this short note or memorial ensuing; by which it may be perceived both what Serjeant Puckering, the speaker, did with the said questions after he had received them, and what became also of this business.... These questions Mr. Puckering pocketed up and showed Sir Thomas Heneage, who so handled the matter that Mr. Wentworth went to the Tower and the questions [were] not at all moved....

Ibid., p. 411.

(M) Speech of the Lord Keeper on the Privileges of the Commons (1593)

... Her gracious majesty is well pleased to grant them so far as they be grantable. She saith there be two things in a man most behoveful if they be well used, and most deadly if they be ill used: wit and tongue, they are those. They be most happy possessions and needful helps, and all as they be placed. Having therefore especial care that that may never hurt you, which she by her grant doth yield you, she wills you take good heed in what sort she permits it. She would be sorry that folly past should by new redouble the faults, and chargeth you, Mr. Speaker, if any shall deliver to you any bill that passeth the reach of a subject's brain to mention, that same you receive not, but with purpose to show it where it best becometh you. Next, if any speech undecent or matter unfit for that place be used, remember them of this lesson: your petitions ... must be ruled, and that thus her majesty granteth you liberal but not licentious speech; liberty therefore, but with due limitation. For even as there can be no good consultation where all freedom of advice is barred, so will there be no good conclusion where every man speak what he listeth, without fit observation of persons, matters, times, places, and other needful circumstances. It shall be meet, therefore, that each man of you contain his speech within the bounds of loyalty and good discretion, being assured that, as the contrary is punishable in all men, so most of all in them that take upon them to be counsellors and procurators of the commonwealth. For liberty of speech her majesty commandeth me to tell you that, to say yea or no to bills, God forbid that any man should be restrained or afraid to answer according to his best liking, with some short declaration of his reason therein, and therein to have a free voice, which is the very true liberty of the house; not, as some suppose, to speak there of all causes as him listeth, and to frame a form of religion or a state of government as to their idle brains shall seem meetest. She saith no king fit for his state will suffer such absurdities; and, though she hopeth no man here longeth so much for his ruin as that he mindeth to make such a peril to his own safety, yet, that you may better follow what she wisheth, she makes of her goodness you the partakers of her intent and meaning.

English Historical Review, XXXI, 136.

(N) Speech of Serjeant Heyle (1601)

[9 November.] ... Then Serjeant Heyle stood up and made a motion, saying: "Mr. Speaker, I marvel much that the house will stand upon granting of a subsidy, or the time of payment, when all we have is her majesty's; and she may lawfully at her pleasure take it from us. Yea, she hath as much right to all our lands and goods as to any revenue of her crown." At which all the house hemmed and laughed and talked. "Well," quoth Serjeant Heyle, "all your hemming shall not put me out of countenance." So Mr. Speaker stood up and said, "It is a great disorder that this should be used; for it is the ancient use of every man to be silent when any one speaketh, and he that is speaking should be suffered to deliver his mind without interruption." So the said serjeant proceeded and, when he had spoken a little while, the house hemmed again; and so he sat down. In his latter speech he said he could prove his former position by precedent in the times of Henry III, King John, King Stephen; which was the occasion of their hemming....

D'Ewes, Journal, p. 633.

(O) Speeches by Sir Robert Cecil (1601)

[24 November.] ... Upon some loud confusion in the house touching some private murmur of monopolies, Mr. Secretary Cecil said: "The duty I owe and the zeal to extinguish monopolies makes me to speak now, and to satisfy their opinions that think there shall be no redress of these monopolies. Order is attended with these two handmaids, gravity and zeal; but zeal with discretion. I have been (though unworthy) a member of this house in six or seven parliaments; yet never did I see the house in so great confusion. I believe there never was in any parliament a more tender point handled than the liberty of the subject; that, when any is discussing this point, he should be cried and coughed down — this is more fit for a grammar school than a court of parliament. I have been a councillor of state this twelve years; yet did I never know it subject to construction of levity and disorder. Much more ought we to be regardful in so great and grave an assembly. Why, we have had speeches upon speeches, without either order or discretion. One would have had us proceed by bill and see if the queen would have denied it; another, that the patents should be brought here before us and cancelled — and this were bravely done! Others would have us to proceed by way of petition, which course doubtless is best; but for the first, and especially for the second, it is so ridiculous, that I think we should have as bad success as the devil himself would have wished in so good a cause. Why, if idle courses had been followed, we should have gone forsooth to the queen with a petition to have repealed a patent of monopoly of tobacco pipes (which Mr. Wingfield's note had) and I know not how many conceits. But I wish every man to rest satisfied till the committees have brought in their resolutions according to your commandments." ...

[25 November.] ... Mr. Secretary Cecil stood up and said: "I fear we are not secret within ourselves. Then must I needs give you this for a future caution: that whatsoever is subject to public expectation cannot be good, while the parliament matters are ordinary talk in the street. I have heard myself, being in my coach, these words spoken aloud: 'God prosper those that further the overthrow of these monopolies! God send the prerogative touch not our liberty!' I will not wrong any so much as to imagine he was of this assembly. Yet let me give you this note: that the time was never more apt to disorder and make ill interpretation of good meaning. I think those persons would be glad that all sovereignty were converted into popularity. We, being here, are but the popular branch, and our liberty [is] the liberty of the subject. And the world is apt to slander most especially the ministers of government...."

Ibid., pp. 651, 653.

(P) Speech of the Queen (1601)

[30 November.] In the afternoon, about three of the clock, some sevenscore of the house met at the great chamber before the council chamber in Whitehall. At length the queen came into the council chamber where, sitting under the cloth of state at the upper end, the speaker with all the company came in and, after three low reverences made, he spake to this effect.... And, after three low reverences made, he with the rest kneeled down, and her majesty began thus to answer herself, vis.: "Mr. Speaker, we have heard your declaration and perceive your care of our state by falling into the consideration of a grateful acknowledgment of such benefits as you have received; and that your coming is to present thanks unto us, which I accept with no less joy than your loves can have desire to offer such a present. I do assure you that there is no prince that loveth his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our love. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a prize, which I prefer before this jewel; I mean your love. For I do more esteem it than any treasure or riches; for that we know how to prize, but love and thanks I count inestimable. And though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my crown, that I have reigned with your loves. This makes me that I do not so much rejoice that God hath made me to be a queen, as to be a queen over so thankful a people. Therefore I have cause to wish nothing more than to content the subject, and that is a duty which I owe. Neither do I desire to live longer days than that I may see your prosperity, and that's my only desire. And as I am that person that still, yet under God, hath delivered you, so I trust, by the almighty power of God, that I still shall be His instrument to preserve you from envy, peril, dishonour, shame, tyranny, and oppression; partly by means of your intended helps, which we take very acceptably, because it manifesteth the largeness of your loves and loyalties unto your sovereign. Of myself I must say this: I never was any greedy, scraping grasper, nor a strait fast-holding prince, nor yet a waster. My heart was never set on worldly goods, but only for my subjects' good. What you do bestow on me, I will not hoard it up, but receive it to bestow on you again. Yea, mine own properties I count yours to be expended for your good. Therefore render unto them from me I beseech you, Mr. Speaker, such thanks as you imagine my heart yieldeth, but my tongue cannot express."

Note that all this while they kneeled. Whereupon her majesty said, "Mr. Speaker, I would wish you and the rest to stand up, for I shall yet trouble you with longer speech." So they all stood up and she went on in her speech, saying: "... I know the title of a king is a glorious title; but assure yourself that the shining glory of princely authority hath not so dazzled the eyes of our understanding but that we will know and remember that we also are to yield an account of our actions before the Great Judge. To be a king and wear a crown is more glorious to them that see it, than it is pleasure to them that bear it. For myself, I was never so much enticed with the glorious name of a king, or royal authority of a queen, as delighted that God hath made me this instrument to maintain His truth and glory, and to defend this kingdom, as I said, from peril, dishonour, tyranny, and oppression. There will never queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country, care to my subjects, and that will sooner with willingness yield and venture her life for your good and safety than myself. And though you have had and may have many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had or shall have any that will be more careful and loving.... And so I commit you all to your best fortunes and further counsels. And I pray you, Mr. Comptroller, Mr. Secretary, and you of my council, that, before these gentlemen depart into their countries, you bring them all to kiss my hand."

Ibid., pp. 659 f.

[1] The following extracts are taken from the journals of the two houses as edited by Sir Simonds D'Ewes. For the sake of preserving the chronological order, a section from the commons' journal is here inserted between two sections of the lords' journal.

[2] Let it be delivered to the lords.

[3] A champertor was a man who supported a litigant for a share in the proceeds of the suit.

[4] See J. E. Neale, "The Commons' Privilege of Free Speech in Parliament," in Tudor Studies, pp. 257 f.

[5] See J. E. Neale, "Peter Wentworth," in the English Historical Review, XXXIX, 36 f., 175 f.

[6] See H. Wright, Arthur Hall.