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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.
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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next parliament was the Oxford Parliament of 1681.
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.
Denzil Holles, 1st Baron Holles PC was an English statesman, best remembered as one of the Five Members whose attempted arrest by Charles I in January 1642 sparked the First English Civil War.
William Sacheverell was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in two periods between 1670 and 1691.
Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury PC 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.
A petitioner is a person who pleads with governmental institution for a legal remedy or a redress of grievances, through use of a petition.
George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax,, was an English statesman, writer, and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1660, and in the House of Lords after he was raised to the peerage in 1668.
The Popish Plot was a fictitious 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.
The Exclusion Crisis ran from 1679 until 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, Scottish and Irish thrones, now the British 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.
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, 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 coffeehouses 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.
Events from the year 1679 in England.
Theophilus Hastings, 7th Earl of Huntingdon was a 17th-century English politician and Jacobite. One of the few non-Catholics to remain loyal to James II of England after November 1688, on the rare occasions he is mentioned by historians, he is described as a 'facile instrument of the Stuarts,' a 'turncoat' or 'outright renegade.'
Henry Powle was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1660 and 1690, and was Speaker of the House of Commons from January 1689 to February 1690. He was also Master of the Rolls.
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.
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-Catholic, 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-Catholic beliefs and insurgences against Catholic priests made him an unpopular and controversial figure amongst his peers and in his native Monmouthshire. In his later years 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.
Sir Robert Thomas, 2nd Baronet (c.1622-1685) was a Welsh politician who sat in the House of Commons of England from 1661 to 1681. He was knighted and succeeded as baronet in 1673 on the death of his father.
Prorogation in the United Kingdom is an act in United Kingdom 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 but is to be exercised, on the advice of the Prime Minister, according to law.