Habeas Corpus Parliament

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The Habeas Corpus Parliament, also known as the First Exclusion Parliament, was a short-lived English Parliament which assembled on 6 March 1679 (or 1678, Old Style) 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.

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.

Old Style and New Style dates Changes in calendar conventions from Julian to Gregorian and also (in some places) to date of start of year

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

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.


The Habeas Corpus Parliament sat for two sessions. The first session sat from 6 March 1679 to 13 March 1679, the second session from 15 March 1679 to 26 May 1679. It was dissolved while in recess on 12 July 1679. [1]


The parliament succeeded the long Cavalier Parliament of 1661–1678/79, which the King had dissolved. [2] Elections were held for a new parliament on various dates in February 1678/79, after which the Earl of Shaftesbury estimated that of the members of the new House of Commons one third were friends of the court, three-fifths favouring the Opposition, and the rest capable of going either way. [3] On Thursday, 6 March, the Parliament first met, and the King opened the session with a speech to both houses, in which he said:

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.

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.

I have done many great Things already... as the Exclusion of the Popish Lords from their Seats in Parliament; the Execution of several Men, both upon the score of the Plot, and the Murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey... I have disbanded as much of the Army as I could get Money to do; and I am ready to disband the rest so soon as you shall reimburse me the Money they have cost me, and will enable me to pay off the Remainder: And above all, I have commanded my Brother to absent himself from me, because I would not leave malicious Men room to say, I had not removed all Causes which could be pretended to influence me towards Popish Counsels... I have not been wanting in giving Orders for putting all the present Laws in Execution against Papists; and I am ready to join in the making such farther Laws, as may be necessary for securing the Kingdom against Popery... I must needs put you in mind how necessary it will be to have a good Strength at Sea, next Summer, since our Neighbours are making naval Preparations... I will conclude as I begun, with my earnest Desires to have this a Healing Parliament; and I do give you this Assurance that I will with my Life defend both the Protestant Religion, and the Laws of this Kingdom, and I do expect from you to be defended from the Calumny, as well as the Danger of those worst of Men, who endeavour to render me, and my Government, odious to my People. The rest I leave to the Lord Chancellor. [4]

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.

The English Army existed while England was an independent state and was at war with other states, but it was not until the Interregnum and the New Model Army that England acquired a peacetime professional standing army. At the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II kept a small standing army, formed from elements of the Royalist army in exile and elements of the New Model Army, from which the most senior regular regiments of today's British Army can trace their antecedence. Likewise, Royal Marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot" at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company on 28 October 1664.

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.

Lord Chancellor Finch replied. [4]

After several days of debate and correspondence with the King, William Gregory, who had served only one year in Parliament, was elected to serve as Speaker of the House of Commons, this being agreed as a compromise between the Commons, who had wished to re-elect Edward Seymour, and the King, who objected to Seymour. [5]

William Gregory (1625–1696) British judge and politician

Sir William Gregory was a British judge and politician. Born the son of the vicar of Fownhope, he was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and All Souls College, Oxford and was then called to the Bar from Gray's Inn. In 1653 he married Katharine, only daughter and heiress of James Smith of Tillington, by whom he had an only son, James, who died in 1691 before his father. It was not until 1677 that William gained prominence, being elected a Serjeant-at-law. In March 1677 the election of Sir Thomas Williams as a Member of Parliament for Weobly was called into question and declared void, so William Gregory offered himself as a candidate and was elected without opposition on 9 March.

Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Baronet British politician

Sir Edward Seymour, of Berry Pomeroy, 4th Baronet, MP was a British nobleman, and a Royalist and Tory politician.

On 25 March, Shaftesbury made a strong speech in the House of Lords warning of the threat of Popery and arbitrary government, and denouncing the royal administrations in the Kingdom of Scotland under John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, and in the Kingdom of Ireland under James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde. He also denounced anew the Earl of Danby. Parliament resumed the pursuit of Danby's impeachment, showing even more anger against him than its Cavalier Parliament predecessor had. [3] [6]

House of Lords Upper house in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers and domestically usually referred to simply as the Lords, is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is granted by appointment or else by heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Officially, the full name of the house is the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.

Papist historical and derogatory name for Roman Catholics or Catholicism

Popery is a pejorative term used to label the Roman Catholic Church, its teachings, practices and adherents. In early use the term could refer to a partisan backing the side of the pope on a particular issue. In English the word gained currency during the English Reformation, as it was used to denote a person whose loyalties were to the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, rather than to the Church of England. First used in 1522, papist derives from Latin papa, meaning "pope".

Kingdom of Scotland Historic sovereign kingdom in the British Isles from the 9th century to 1707

The Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern third of the island of Great Britain, sharing a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England. It suffered many invasions by the English, but under Robert I it fought a successful War of Independence and remained an independent state throughout the late Middle Ages. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England, joining Scotland with England in a personal union. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain under the terms of the Acts of Union. Following the annexation of the Northern Isles from the Kingdom of Norway in 1472 and final capture of the Royal Burgh of Berwick by the Kingdom of England in 1482, the territory of the Kingdom of Scotland corresponded to that of modern-day Scotland, bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest.

As the parliament's name implies, its most notable achievement was the passage of the Habeas Corpus Act 1679. This was part of the struggle led by Shaftesbury to exclude the King's Roman Catholic brother James, Duke of York, from the succession to the throne, as Shaftesbury and his allies believed James would rule England arbitrarily.

On 15 May 1679, Shaftesbury's supporters in the Commons introduced the Exclusion Bill, which had the specific aim of disbarring the Duke of York from the throne. When it appeared that the bill was likely to pass, Charles used his prerogative to dissolve Parliament, which was prorogued on 27 May 1679 and did not meet again before it came to an end on 12 July 1679. [3] [7] [8]

On 22 June, in the dying days of the parliament, although some weeks after its final meeting, came the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, at which troops commanded by the King's illegitimate son James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth defeated a rebellion in Scotland by militant Presbyterian Covenanters against Lauderdale's rule. Following the battle, Lauderdale was replaced in Scotland by the Duke of York. [9]

See also


  1. T.Cobbett, Parliamentary History of England, 1809: vol.4 p.1149
  2. Ronald H. Fritze, William B. Robison, Historical Dictionary of Stuart England, 1603–1689 (1996), p. 575 online at books.google.co.uk
  3. 1 2 3 Tim Harris, 'Cooper, Anthony Ashley', in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004–2007) doi : 10.1093/ref:odnb/6208
  4. 1 2 from: 'The Third Parliament of Charles II: First session – begins 6/3/1679', in The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons : volume 1: 1660–1680 (1742), pp. 323–370 online british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 14 May 2010
  5. The Lives of the Speakers of the House of Commons, from the Time of King Edward III to Queen Victoria, p. 376 at Google Books
  6. John Bagford, Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth, The Bagford Ballads: Illustrating the Last Years of the Stuarts, vol. 2 (1878), p. 742
  7. Dates of Parliaments Archived 6 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine at adam-matthew-publications.co.uk
  8. Joseph Robson Tanner, English Constitutional Conflicts of the Seventeenth Century (1928), p. viii online
  9. Stanley Mordaunt Leathes et al., Cambridge Modern History , vol. 1 (1902, reprinted 1964), p. 286 online

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