Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX V.: the petition of right. 1 - On Civil Liberty and Self-Government
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APPENDIX V.: the petition of right. 1 - Francis Lieber, On Civil Liberty and Self-Government 
On Civil Liberty and Self-Government, 3rd revised edition, ed. Theodore D. Woolsey (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1883).
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the petition of right.1
To the Kings Most Excellent Majestie.
Humbly shew unto our Sovereign Lord the King, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in Parliament assembled, that whereas it is declared and enacted by a Statute, made in the tyme of the Raigne of King Edward the first, commonly called “Statutum de Tallagio non concedendo,” that no Tallage or Aide should be laid or levied, by the King or his heires, in this Realme; without the good-will and assent of the Arch Bishopps, Bishopps, Earles, Barons, Knights, Burgesses and other the freemen of the cominalty of this realme; And by Authority of Parliament houlden in the five and twentieth yere of the Raigne of King Edward the third, it is declared and enacted, that from thenceforth noe person should be compelled to make any loanes to the King against his will, because such loanes were against reason, and the franchise of the land; and by other lawes of this realme it is provided, that none should be charged by any charge or imposition, called a Benevolence, nor by such like charge, by which the Statuts before mentioned, and other the good lawes and statuts of this Realme, your Subjects have inherited this freedom, that they should not be compelled to contribute to any Tax, Tallage, Aide, or other like charge, not sett by common consent in Parliament.
Yet nevertheless of late, divers commissions, directed to sundrie commissioners in severall Counties, with instructions, have been issued, by means whereof your People have bene in divers places assembled, and required to lend certaine sommes of money unto your Majestie, and many of them upon their refusall soe to doe, have had an oath administered unto them, not warrantable by the Lawes or Statuts of this Realme, and have been constrained to become bound to make appearance, and give attendance before your Privie Councell, and in other places; and others of them have beene therefore imprisoned, confined, and sundrie other wayes molested and disquieted: And divers other charges have bene laid and leavied upon your People in severall Counties, by Lord Lieutenants, Deputie-Lieutenants, Commissioners for musters, Justices of peace and others, by commaunde or direction from your Majestie, or your Privie-Councell, against the lawes and free customes of the realme.
And whereas alsoe by the Statute called “The greate Charter of the Liberties of England,” it is declared and enacted, that noe freeman may be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his freehold or liberties, or his free customes, or be outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, but by the lawfull judgment of his Peeres, or by the lawe of the land.
And in the eight and twentieth yere of the reigne of King Edward the third, it was declared and ennacted by Authoritie of Parliament, that no man, of what estate or condition that he be, should be putt out of his lands or tenements, nor taken nor imprisoned, nor disherited, nor putt to death, without being brought to answer by due process of lawe.
Nevertheless against the tenour of the said Statutes, and other the good lawes and Statuts of your Realme, to that end provided, divers of your subjects have of late bene imprisoned without any cause showed; and when for their deliverance they were brought before your Justices, by your Majestie's Writ of Habeas Corpus, there to undergoe and receive, as the Court should order, and their Keepers commaunded to certify the causes of their detayner; noe cause was certified, but that they were detayned by your Majestie's special commaund, signified by the Lords of your Privie Councell, and yet were returned back to severall prisons, without being charged with any thynge to which they might make answeare according to the lawe.
And whereas of late, great companies of souldiers and marriners have bene dispersed into divers Counties of the Realme, and the inhabitants against their wills have been compelled to receive them into their houses, and there to suffer them to sojorne, against the lawes and customes of this realme, and to the great grievance and vexation of the People.
And whereas alsoe, by authority of Parliament, in the 25th yere of the raigne of King Edward III., it is declared and enacted that noe man should be forejudged of life or lymbe, against the forme of the great Charter, and the lawe of the land, and by the said great Charter, and other the Laws and Statuts of this your Realme, no man ought to be adjudged to death, but by the lawes established in this your realme, either by the customes of the same realme, or by Acts of Parliament; And whereas noe offender, of what kind soever, is exempted from the proceedings to be used, and the punishments to be inflicted by the lawes and statutes of this your realme; nevertheless of late time, divers commissions under your Majestie's Greate Seale have issued forth, by which certaine persons have been assigned and appointed commissioners, with power and authoritie to proceed within the land, according to the justice of martiall lawe, against such souldiers and marriners, or other dissolute persons joining with them, as should commit any murder, robbery, felonie, meeting, or other outrage or misdemeanour, whatsoever; and by such summarie course and order as is agreeable to martiall lawe, and as is used in armies in tyme of war, to proceed to the tryal and condemnation of such offenders, and them to cause to be executed and putt to death, according to the lawe martiall.
By pretext whereof, some of your Majestie's Subjects have bene by some of the said commissioners put to death, when and where, if lawes and statuts of the land they had deserved death, by the same lawes and statuts alsoe they might, and by noe other ought, to have been judged and executed.
And alsoe sundrie grievous offenders, by colour thereof clayminge an exemption, have escaped the punishments due to them by the lawes and statuts of this your realm, by reason that divers of your officers and ministers of justice have unjustly refused or forborne to proceed against such offenders, according to the same lawes and statuts, upon pretence that the said offenders were punishable only by martiall lawe, and by authority of such commissions as aforesaid; which commissions, and all others of like nature, are wholely and directlie contrary to the said lawes and statuts of this your realme.
They doe therefore humbly pray your most excellent Majestie, That no man hereafter be compelled to make or yielde any guifte, loane, benevolence, tax, or such like charge, without common consent by Act of Parliament; and that none be called to make answeare, or take such oath, or to give attendance, or be confyned, or otherwise molested or disquieted concerning the same, or for refusal thereof: And that noe freeman, in any such manner as is before mentioned, be imprisoned or detayned: And that your Majestie would be pleased to remove the said souldiers and marriners, and that your People may not be soe burthened in the tyme to come: And that the aforesaid commissions for proceedinge by martiall lawe, may be revoaked and annulled: and that hereafter, noe commissions of like nature may issue forth to any person or persons whatsoever, to be executed as aforesaid, least by colour of them, any of your Majestie's subjects be destroyed, or putt to death, contrary to the lawes and franchise of the land.
All which they do most humbly pray of your most excellent Majestie, as their Rights and Liberties, according to the lawes and statuts of this Realme: And that your Majestie would also vouchsafe to declare, that the awardes, doeings, and proceedings, to the prejudice of your People, in any of the premises, shall not be drawn hereafter into consequence or example: And that your Majestie would be alsoe graciously pleased, for the further comfort and safetie of your people, to declare your royal will and pleasure, That in the things aforesaid all your officers and ministers shall serve you, according to the lawes and statuts of this realme, as they tender the honour of your Majestie, and the prosperity of this Kingdom.
The King's Answer to the Petition of Right.
The King willeth that Right be done, according to the laws and customs of the realme; and that the Statutes be put in due execution, that his subjects may have no cause to complain of any wrong or oppressions, contrary to their just Rights and Liberties, to the preservation whereof he holds himself in conscience as well obliged, as of his prerogative.
Petition of both Houses to the King, on the 7th day of June, 1628, wherein a more full and satisfactory answer to the above Petition t is prayed for.
May it please your most excellent Majestie, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in Parliament assembled, taking in consideration that the good intelligence between your Majestie and your People, doth much depend upon your Majestie's answer upon their Petition of Right, formerly presented; with unanimous consent do now become most humble suitors unto your Majestie, that you would be pleased to give a clear and satisfactory answer thereunto in full Parliament.
To which Petition the King replied:
The answer I have already given you was made with so good deliberation, and approved by the judgments of so many wise men, that I could not have imagined but that it would have given you full satisfaction: But to avoid all ambiguous interpretations, and to show you there is no doubleness in my meaning, I am willing to pleasure you as well in words as in substance: Read your petition, and you shall have an answer that I am sure will please you.
Here the petition was read, and the following answer was returned: “Soit Droit fait comme il est desire.” C. R.
Then said his Majesty:
This I am sure is full, yet no more than I granted you in my first answer, for the meaning of that, was to confirm your liberties, knowing according to your own protestations, that you neither mean nor can hurt my prerogative. And I assure you, my maxim is, that the People's liberties strengthen the King's Prerogative, and the King's Prerogative is to defend the People's Liberties.
You see how ready I have shown myself to satisfy your demand, so that I have done my part; wherefore if this parliament have not a happy conclusion, the sin is yours, I am free from it.
[The above is the Answer of the King in Parliament, and his Speech on that occasion, June 7th, 1628.]
[1.]This petition was drawn up by Sir Edward Coke. Coke, 207, edit. of 1697.