Exclusion Bill Parliament

Last updated

"The Solemn Mock Procession of the Pope, Cardinals, Jesuits, Friars, etc. through the City of London, 17 November 1679." The Solemn Mock Procession of the Pope (1829).jpg
"The Solemn Mock Procession of the Pope, Cardinals, Jesuits, Friars, etc. through the City of London, 17 November 1679."
Book of the 1680 Westminster House of Commons debates 1680 Westminster House of Commons debates.jpg
Book of the 1680 Westminster House of Commons debates

The Exclusion Bill Parliament was a Parliament of England during the reign of Charles II of England, named after the long saga of the Exclusion Bill. Summoned on 24 July 1679, but prorogued by the king so that it did not assemble until 21 October 1680, it was dissolved three months later on 18 January 1680/81.

Parliament of England historic legislature of the Kingdom of England

The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England, existing from the early 13th century until 1707, when it united with the Parliament of Scotland to become the Parliament of Great Britain after the political union of England and Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Charles II of England King of England, Scotland and Ireland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death.



Succeeding the long Cavalier Parliament and the short-lived Habeas Corpus Parliament of March to July 1679, this was the third parliament of the King's reign. Its character was much influenced by the aftermath of the Popish Plot crisis.

Cavalier Parliament ruling body of 17th century England

The Cavalier Parliament of England lasted from 8 May 1661 until 24 January 1679. It was the longest English Parliament, enduring for nearly 18 years of the quarter-century reign of Charles II of England. Like its predecessor, the Convention Parliament, it was overwhelmingly Royalist and is also known as the Pensioner Parliament for the many pensions it granted to adherents of the King.

Habeas Corpus Parliament

The Habeas Corpus Parliament, also known as the First Exclusion Parliament, was a short-lived English Parliament which assembled on 6 March 1679 during the reign of Charles II of England, the third parliament of the King's reign. It is named after the Habeas Corpus Act, which it enacted in May 1679.

Popish Plot fictitious anti-Catholic conspiracy in England

The Popish Plot was a conspiracy invented by Titus Oates that between 1678 and 1681 gripped the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in anti-Catholic hysteria. Oates alleged that there was an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Charles II, accusations that led to the executions of at least 22 men and precipitated the Exclusion Bill Crisis. Eventually Oates's intricate web of accusations fell apart, leading to his arrest and conviction for perjury.

On 15 May 1679, the supporters of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, had introduced the Exclusion Bill into the Commons with the aim of excluding the king's brother, James, Duke of York, from the succession to the throne. A fringe group began to support the claim of Charles's illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth. As it seemed likely that the bill would pass, Charles exercised his Royal prerogative to dissolve Parliament. [1] [2]

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury English politician and Earl

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury PC, known as Anthony Ashley Cooper from 1621 to 1630, as Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, 2nd Baronet from 1630 to 1661, and as The Lord Ashley from 1661 to 1672, was a prominent English politician during the Interregnum and the reign of King Charles II. A founder of the Whig party, he was also the patron of John Locke.

House of Commons of England parliament of England up to 1707

The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain. In 1801, with the union of Great Britain and Ireland, that house was in turn replaced by the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

James II of England King of England, Scotland and Ireland

James II and VII was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, his reign is now remembered primarily for struggles over religious tolerance. However, it also involved the principles of absolutism and divine right of kings and his deposition ended a century of political and civil strife by confirming the primacy of Parliament over the Crown.


A new parliament was summoned on 24 July 1679, and elections to the new House of Commons were held on various dates in the weeks which followed, but in general they went badly for the court party. With parliament expected to meet in October 1679, King Charles prorogued the parliament until 26 January 1680. [3] Shaftesbury was anxious that the king might be intending not to meet this new parliament, so he launched a petitioning campaign to pressure the king to do so. He also wrote to the Duke of Monmouth, advising him to return from exile, and on 27 November 1679 Monmouth entered London amid scenes of widespread celebration. On 7 December 1679, a petition signed by Shaftesbury and fifteen other Whig peers called on Charles to meet parliament, and this was followed on 13 January 1679/80 by a similar petition of 20,000 signatures. However, instead of meeting parliament Charles further prorogued it and recalled his brother the Duke of York from Scotland. With this, Shaftesbury urged his friends on the Privy Council to resign, and four did so. [3]

James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth English nobleman and soldier

James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, 1st Duke of Buccleuch, KG, PC was a Dutch-born English nobleman. Originally called James Crofts or James Fitzroy, he was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and his mistress Lucy Walter.

This agitation was opposed by George Jeffreys and Francis Wythens, who presented addresses expressing abhorrence of the petitioners, thus initiating the movement of the Abhorrers, who supported the actions of the king. Roger North noted that "The frolic went all over England", and the addresses of the Abhorrers from around the country formed a counterblast to those of the Petitioners.

George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys Welsh judge

George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys, PC, also known as "the Hanging Judge", was a Welsh judge. He became notable during the reign of King James II, rising to the position of Lord Chancellor. His conduct as a judge was to enforce royal policy, resulting in a historical reputation for severity and bias.

Sir Francis Wythens SL KC of Eltham, Kent was a British judge and politician.

A petitioner is a person who pleads with governmental institution for a legal remedy or a redress of grievances, through use of a petition.

Shaftesbury's party sought to establish a mass movement to keep alive the fears raised by the Popish Plot, organising huge processions in London in which the Pope was burnt in effigy. The King's supporters mustered their own propaganda in the form of memoirs of the Commonwealth government of Oliver Cromwell and its austerities. The King labelled the Whigs as subversives and nonconformists, and by early 1681 Shaftesbury's mass movement had died down.

Commonwealth of England Historic republic on the British Isles (1649–1660)

The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales, later along with Ireland and Scotland, were governed as a republic after the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I. The republic's existence was declared through "An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth", adopted by the Rump Parliament on 19 May 1649. Power in the early Commonwealth was vested primarily in the Parliament and a Council of State. During the period, fighting continued, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, between the parliamentary forces and those opposed to them, as part of what is now referred to as the Third English Civil War.

Oliver Cromwell 17th-century English military and political leader

Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader. He served as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland "and of the dominions thereto belonging" from 1653 until his death, acting simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republic.

Nonconformist Protestant Christians in Wales and England who did not follow the Church of England

In English church history, a Nonconformist was a Protestant who did not "conform" to the governance and usages of the established Church of England. Broad use of the term was precipitated after the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660, when the Act of Uniformity 1662 re-established the opponents of reform within the Church of England. By the late 19th century the term specifically included the Reformed Christians, plus the Baptists and Methodists. The English Dissenters such as the Puritans who violated the Act of Uniformity 1559—typically by practising radical, sometimes separatist, dissent—were retrospectively labelled as Nonconformists.

Throughout the life of the parliament the supporters of Shaftesbury, becoming known as the Whigs, continued in their attempts to promote and pass the Exclusion Bill, and Charles had little doubt that it would pass the House of Commons, if not the Lords. The natural supporters of the king and his brother in the parliament were the High Anglicans, who as a political faction opposing the Exclusion Bill were known first as the Abhorrers, later as the Tories. [4]

On 24 March 1680, Shaftesbury told the Privy Council he had received news that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were about to launch a rebellion, backed by the French. Several Privy Councillors, including Henry Coventry, thought Shaftesbury was making this story up to inflame public opinion, so an investigation was launched. This ultimately resulted in the execution of Oliver Plunkett, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, on spurious charges. [3]

On 26 June 1680, Shaftesbury led a group of fifteen peers and commoners who presented an indictment to the Middlesex grand jury in Westminster Hall, charging the Duke of York with being a popish recusant, in violation of the penal laws. Before the grand jury could act, it was dismissed for interfering in matters of state. The next week, Shaftesbury again tried to indict the Duke of York, but again the grand jury was dismissed before it could take any action. [3]

Parliament finally met on 21 October 1680, when the Commons elected for the first time William Williams as Speaker. He became the first Speaker of the House of Commons from Wales.

On 23 October, Shaftesbury in the House of Lords called for a committee to be set up to investigate the Popish Plot. The Exclusion Bill, which as widely foreseen had been passed by the Commons, came before the Lords on 15 November, when Shaftesbury gave an impassioned speech in favour of it, but the Lords rejected the Bill by 63 votes to 30. The Lords now wished to explore alternative ways of limiting the powers of a Roman Catholic successor to the throne, but Shaftesbury argued that the only viable alternative to exclusion was calling on the king to marry again and provide a new heir. On 23 December 1680, Shaftesbury gave another strong pro-Exclusion speech in the Lords, in the course of which he attacked the Duke of York, stated his mistrust of Charles II, and urged parliament not to approve any further taxes until "the King shall satisfie the People, that what we give is not to make us Slaves and Papists". With parliament pursuing the Irish investigation vigorously and threatening to impeach some of the king's judges, Charles prorogued parliament on 10 January 1680/81, and then dissolved it on 18 January, calling for fresh elections for a new Commons, intending the next parliament to meet at Oxford. On 25 January, Shaftesbury, Essex, and Salisbury presented the king with a petition signed by sixteen peers asking that parliament should be held at Westminster Hall rather than Oxford, but the king remained committed to his intention. [3]

The next parliament was the Oxford Parliament of 1681.

See also


  1. Dates of Parliaments Archived 6 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine at adam-matthew-publications.co.uk
  2. Joseph Robson Tanner, English Constitutional Conflicts of the Seventeenth Century (1928), p. viii online
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Tim Harris, 'Cooper, Anthony Ashley', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , Oxford University Press, 2004–2007, doi : 10.1093/ref:odnb/6208
  4. Clement Boulton Roylance Kent, The early history of the Tories: from the accession of Charles the Second to the death of William the Third (1660–1702) (1908), pp. 258–264

Related Research Articles

Abhorrers, the name given in 1679 to the persons who expressed their abhorrence at the action of those who had signed petitions urging King Charles II of England to assemble Parliament.

The Whigs were a political faction and then a political party in the parliaments of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Between the 1680s and 1850s, they contested power with their rivals, the Tories. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute monarchy. The Whigs played a central role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and were the standing enemies of the Stuart kings and pretenders, who were Roman Catholic. The Whigs took full control of the government in 1715 and remained totally dominant until King George III, coming to the throne in 1760, allowed Tories back in. The Whig Supremacy (1715–1760) was enabled by the Hanoverian succession of George I in 1714 and the failed Jacobite rising of 1715 by Tory rebels. The Whigs thoroughly purged the Tories from all major positions in government, the army, the Church of England, the legal profession and local offices. The Party's hold on power was so strong and durable, historians call the period from roughly 1714 to 1783 the age of the Whig Oligarchy. The first great leader of the Whigs was Robert Walpole, who maintained control of the government through the period 1721–1742 and whose protégé Henry Pelham led from 1743 to 1754.

William Sacheverell was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in two periods between 1670 and 1691.

John Somers, 1st Baron Somers British Baron

John Somers, 1st Baron Somers, was an English Whig jurist and statesman. Somers first came to national attention in the trial of the Seven Bishops where he was on their defence counsel. He published tracts on political topics such as the succession to the crown, where he elaborated his Whig principles in support of the Exclusionists. He played a leading part in shaping the Revolution settlement. He was Lord High Chancellor of England under King William III and was a chief architect of the union between England and Scotland achieved in 1707 and the Protestant succession achieved in 1714. He was a leading Whig during the twenty-five years after 1688; with four colleagues he formed the Whig Junto.

Exclusion Crisis effort to exclude James, Duke of York, from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland because he was Roman Catholic

The Exclusion Crisis ran from 1679 through 1681 in the reign of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland. Three Exclusion bills sought to exclude the King's brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland because he was Roman Catholic. None became law. Two new parties formed. The Tories were opposed to this exclusion while the "Country Party", who were soon to be called the Whigs, supported it. While the matter of James's exclusion was not decided in Parliament during Charles's reign, it would come to a head only three years after he took the throne, when he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Finally, the Act of Settlement 1701 decided definitively that Catholics were to be excluded from the English throne.

The Privy Council ministry was a short-lived reorganization of English government that was reformed to place the Ministry under the control of the Privy Council in April 1679, due to events in that time.

Habeas Corpus Act 1679 United Kingdom law

The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 is an Act of Parliament in England during the reign of King Charles II. It was passed by what became known as the Habeas Corpus Parliament to define and strengthen the ancient prerogative writ of habeas corpus, which required a court to examine the lawfulness of a prisoner's detention and thus prevent unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment.

William Russell, Lord Russell English politician executed for treason

William Russell, Lord Russell, was an English politician. He was a leading member of the Country Party, forerunners of the Whigs, who during the reign of King Charles II, laid the groundwork for opposition in the House of Commons to the accession of an openly Catholic king in Charles's brother James. This ultimately resulted in Russell's execution for treason, almost two years before Charles died and James acceded to the throne.

The Green Ribbon Club was one of the earliest of the loosely combined associations which met from time to time in London taverns or coffee-houses for political purposes in the 17th century. The "Green Ribbon" was the badge of the Levellers in the English Civil Wars, in which many of them had fought, and was an overt reminder of the radical origins of the club's loyalties.

Richard Hampden English politician

Richard Hampden was an English Whig politician and son of Ship money tax protester John Hampden. He was sworn a Privy Counsellor in 1689 and was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 18 March 1690 until 10 May 1694.

Events from the year 1680 in England.

Events from the year 1679 in England.

Henry Powle was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1660 and 1690. He was Speaker of the House of Commons from January 1689 to February 1689. He was also Master of the Rolls.

Loyal Parliament English parliament of King James II

The Loyal Parliament was the only Parliament of England of King James II, in theory continuing from May 1685 to July 1687, but in practice sitting during 1685 only. It gained its name because at the outset most of its members were loyal to the new king. The Whigs, who had previously resisted James's inheriting the throne, were outnumbered both in the Commons and in the Lords.

John Arnold, widely known as John Arnold of Monmouthshire, was a Welsh Protestant politician and Whig MP. He was one of the most prominent people in Monmouthshire in the late 17th century. A stark anti-Papist, he was a notable figure during the Popish plot and the suppression of Catholicism in the country. Arnold represented the constituencies around Monmouth and Southwark in Parliament in the 1680s and 1690s. His strong anti-Papist beliefs and insurgences against Catholic priests made him an unpopular and controversial figure amongst his peers and in his native Monmouthshire. In his later his behaviour became increasingly eccentric, and he was widely believed to have faked an attempt on his own life. Amongst his associates were Titus Oates and Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury.

Prorogation in the United Kingdom is an act in UK constitutional law that is usually used to mark the end of a parliamentary session. Part of the royal prerogative, it is the name given to the period between the end of a session of the UK Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session. The average length of prorogation since 2000 is approximately 18 days. The parliamentary session may also be prorogued before Parliament is dissolved. The power to prorogue Parliament belongs to the Monarch, on the advice of the Privy Council. Like all prerogative powers, it is not left to the personal discretion of the monarch or Prime Minister but is to be exercised according to law.