Source Problems in English History


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An Account of the Debate in Parliament on June 5, 1628.

(Put together from three Sources.)

a. Sir Richard Grosvenor’s Journal.

b. Borlase Manuscript of the Parliament of 1628..

c. Rushworth, Historical Collections, I, 605–610.

[The Commons wished in 1628 to enact a law under which the King’s ministers could be punished if they repeated their past arbitrary acts. But the King forced them to the weaker procedure of petition. The result was the famous Petition of Right. It was a clear-cut and forceful statement of principles, but is was not wholly satisfactory as an immediate and practical remedy for abuses. Eliot, as leader of those who were most intent upon bringing the Duke of Buckingham to account, waited only for the King to answer the Petition of Right to begin his attack. His speech of June 3d led to plans for a remonstrance. When the King got wind of this he sent his message of the 5th.]

[Rush.] Another message was brought from his Majesty by the Speaker. . . . His Majesty. requires them that they enter not into or proceed with any new business, which may spend greater time, or which may lay any scandal or aspersion upon the state, government, or ministers thereof.

[Borl.] Sir John Eliot. . . . I perceive in the message this sad particular that those things which were appointed to have been the work of this day are suspected as scandals or aspersions. I think the chief work of this day was to propose ways of vindicating his honor. I doubt he thinks we mean his own ministers which are no way equal to aspersions laid upon his people.

Mr. Speaker. A strict command lies upon me from his Majesty that you do not meddle with particulars. I beseech you take heed and do not blame me for telling you so.

[Grosv.] Sir Dudley Digges. . . . The message was of this nature, and so contrary to the fundamental liberties of this House that he wished Sir John Eliot to cease further speaking and that we might sit in silence.

Sir Nath[aniel] Rich. This is the most remarkable time, the most noted occasion that was ever in Parliament. . . . Either we must now speak or forever hold our peace. . . . I move to go altogether to the Lords House there to declare the violation of liberties of England. . . .

Mr. Pyre . . . moved for a committee to resolve of the several heads of the violation of the liberties, of the danger of this kingdom.

Sir Robert Phelips. This may be the last time I shall speak in this House. No fear that can befall me through misinformation from my sovereign, for my heart shall be right to him, my prayers shall be directed to God for him (here he wept). . . . Moved that we may with one unanimity declare each man that nothing hath passed unfit or unduti-fully from any member of this House; which was by question done.

Sir Ed. Giles. We sit as men daunted. Let us put on the spirit of Englishmen and speak to purpose. . . .

[By question resolved into a grand committee to consider what was fit for the House to do about the message.]

[Borl.] Mr. Speaker desired leave upon the naming of some one to sit in the chair for the committee to leave the House for half an hour.1

Mr. Whitby in the Chair.

[Grosv.] Mr. Wansford. . . . Wished all of us to recollect our spirits and to do that which shall be fit for Englishmen. . . . Two propositions, whether to go to the King or to the Lords. I think it not fit [to go] to the Lords. This business principally concerns our own liberties. . . . If we must not speak of ministers, what must we do? Moved to make a remonstrance of our right to speak of our griefs and of ministers ill deserving. . . . Moved to go to the King and acquaint him what we were about; to tell him that which none else durst.

[Rush.] Sir Edward Coke [quotes the precedents to show that men who misled the King may be attacked in Parliament]. Nothing grows to abuse but this House hath power to treat of it. What shall we do? Let us palliate no longer; if we do, God will not prosper us. I think the Duke of Buckingham is the cause of all our miseries . . . that man is the grievance of grievances.1

[The Commons then proceed with their remonstrance, just what they were forbidden to do by the message.]

[June 6th. Mr. Speaker brings another message from the King. . . .]

His Majesty understanding that ye did conceive that his last message to restrain you in your just privileges to complain of any of his ministers; these are to declare his intentions, that he hath no meaning of barring you from what hath been your right, but only to avoid all scandals on his Council and actions past, and that his ministers might not be, nor himself, under their names, taxed for their counsel unto his Majesty, and that no such particulars should be taken in hand as would ask a longer time of consideration than what he hath prefixed.

[In the short session of Parliament in 1629 that followed Buckingham’s murder, the Commons attacked Charles’s ecclesiastical policy and his claims to tonnage and poundage. On March 2d the King sent an order adjourning Parliament until the 10th. The Commons, fearing that a dissolution would follow, determined to bring in a declaration concerning religion and tonnage and poundage. The Speaker was just leaving the chair in accordance with the order for an adjournment when Denzil Holles and Benjamin Valentine took hold of him and kept him in his seat while Sir John Eliot rose to move three resolutions which he and his friends had drafted. A fearful tumult ensued, but the resolutions read by Holles were passed. Then the doors were unlocked and the armed officers of the King walked in. It had been a stormy scene, and the sequel was the prosecution of Holles, Valentine, and Eliot. Informations against them in the Star Chamber were transferred to the Court of the King’s Bench. There they were prosecuted for conspiracy, and Eliot in addition for seditious words in Parliament.]

1 A manuscript account of this Parliament in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society says of the Speaker’s departure: "Note that the Speaker, seeing the House so moved in the morning and none scarce able to speak, and himself also in that condition, desired leave to go out awhile, which was granted, and he went to the King and stayed with him till near 12 of the clock and then returned." Fol. 218verso. Rushworth says he was absent three hours.

1 Rushworth copies a very interesting letter about this day’s session written by Mr. Alured to "old Mr. Chamberlain of the Court of Wards." He tells of the King’s message and goes on: "Then Sir Robert Phelips spake and mingled his words with weeping. Mr. Prynne [Pym] did the like, and Sir Edward Coke, overcome with passion, seeing the desolation likely to ensue, was forced to sit down when he began to speak through the abundance of tears; yea the Speaker in his speech could not refrain from weeping and shedding of tears; besides a great many whose great griefs made them dumb and silent. Yet some bore up in that storm and encouraged others."


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Chicago: "An Account of the Debate in Parliament on June 5, 1628.," Source Problems in English History in Source Problems in English History, ed. Albert Beebe White and Wallace Notestein (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1915), 230–235. Original Sources, accessed October 13, 2019,

MLA: . "An Account of the Debate in Parliament on June 5, 1628." Source Problems in English History, in Source Problems in English History, edited by Albert Beebe White and Wallace Notestein, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1915, pp. 230–235. Original Sources. 13 Oct. 2019.

Harvard: , 'An Account of the Debate in Parliament on June 5, 1628.' in Source Problems in English History. cited in 1915, Source Problems in English History, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.230–235. Original Sources, retrieved 13 October 2019, from