The parliament of 1625, the first of Charles I, was a much less controversial parliament than that of either 1621 or 1624, but it grew more heated as it progressed. Coke began the first parliament moderately, withholding his motion on the first day to appoint a committee of grievances. Coke, however, opposed both heavy taxes and the Duke of Buckingham’s influence and policies.—Ed.
June 22, 1625.
Ed.: Responding to a motion for a committee of grievances or for good harmony between the King and Parliament.
Sir Edward Coke gave 3 reasons against making committees for grievances and courts of justice: first, the danger of infection by drawing the meaner sort of people about us, which was the judicial reason of the adjourning of the term; 2, there have been no grievance[s] since the King came to the crown; 3, we have yet received no answer of our last grievances, therefore we are first to begin to petition his Majesty for that; and hereafter let us be careful to present our grievances in such time that we may have an answer before the breaking up of the parliament.
June 23, 1625.
Ed.: In a debate on the privileges of a member of Parliament taken into execution in an action for debt.
Sir Edward Coke. The liberty of parliament the heartstring of parliament. 2 questions: Whether Sir William Cope shall have his privilege for the last parliament or this.
14 Hen. 4, the knights could have no wages because the parliamentdissolved and the King’s death.
Privilege holds as well upon prorogation as adjournment. 31 Hen. 6, the parliament prorogued. The Duke of York, regent, sued the Speaker in the vacation and had a judgment. The Commons desired their Speaker.
Ed.: In a debate concerning the problems associated with the perceived increase in the numbers of priests and Jesuits.
Sir Edward Coke.Non intellecti nulla est curatio morbi. Diseases kill not men for the most part, but the neglect of cure in due time. So in the politic body, 4 causes of the swarming of these locusts: [1,] suffering of them in the land with impunity; 2, begging of recusants; 3, dependence upon landlords and great men. To appoint a committee to look over the former petitions and answers.
June 24, 1625.
In the Committee of the Whole House
Ed.: Considering petitions concerning the exercise of religion.
Sir Edward Coke. We have not yet touched the center point of the decay of religion. Where prophecy ceases, the people perish. A great part of the realm without teaching. To petition the King to have this in some sort remedied. A precedent for this in the midnight of popery: quinquagesimo of Edw.3, n. 96, the Commons complained of this to the King, this long before Luther. To desire the King that he would call his bishops to him and advise with them.
June 30, 1625.
Ed.: In a debate on the assessment of subsidies.
Sir Edward Coke. Ordinary charges the King should bear alone; but ubi commune periculum commune auxilium. In extraordinary he may require relief. 27 Edw. 3, the King told his subjects he demanded no aid because he had good officers. The King’s revenue as it is, is able to supply his ordinary. Ancient parliaments did so limit their gifts, that they might meet again. Till 31 Eliz. never but one subsidy granted, and Sir Walter Mildmay, though he were a great officer, spoke against it then. But since that time there has been no such thing. 35to. 3 subsidies, 6 15[s]; 39to, 3 subsidies, 6 15[s]; 43to, 4 subsidies, 8 15[s]; etc. And it is not to be forgotten that the tonnage and poundage which yields 160,000l. per annum, and the subsidies of the clergy 20.000l. per annum, are all by gifts of parliament. The time for these two subsidies he would have October and April.
August 2, 1625.
Ed.: Considering the censure of Canon Richard Montague, for publishing books contrary to the current orthodoxy.
Sir Edward Coke (having spoken before, yet being permitted contrary to the orders of the House to speak again). That the privilege of the House of Commons was the heartstring of the commonwealth. We are the general inquisitors, but for the point of doctrine not to judge but to transfer: pro defensione Ecclesiae, given as one cause of calling parliaments in all the ancient writs; and when both Houses have done their duties it will come to the King at last. 18 Hen.3, the parliament beseech the King not to pardon those who were condemned in parliament. 15 Edw.3, John of Gaunt and the Lord Latimer were questioned for giving the King ill counsel. No man, not John of Gaunt himself, is to be excepted. Many men (and I myself) will speak in parliament that which they dare not speak otherwise.
August 5, 1625.
Ed.: In debate concerning the use of treasury revenues for war.
Sir Edward Coke spoke. In King Edward the 3d’s time, who was a valiant and a wise king, the clergy did petition the King for 3 things: for the maintenance and preservation of religion, for a peaceable government, and for the continuance and increase of love between the King and his subjects, was that petitioned then, and is it not needful now. He is afraid some ill star has ruled that has brought us hither. But the place where he is now, in the Divinity School, puts him in mind not to fear any evil but to put our trust in God. For surely we have a gracious and a religious King. And are there no more precedents to this purpose? Yes, in the time of that stout and valiant King Henry the Fourth you shall find that the Commons, perceiving things to go awry, did resort unto the King by petition who rectified the same. See the records of Hen.4.
Two things are urged against us very strongly to give, first our engagement, secondly, the King’s necessity. For the first, our engagement by the House. It was not other but if that the King would turn his weapon against the right enemy, they would supply him in a parliamentary course.
And for the other argument of necessity, I find in Bracton, a father of our law, that there is a threefold necessity: necessitas affectata, inevitabilis aut invincibilis, et improvida. That this is not affectata in his conscience he dares acquit the King. That it is invincibilis, or inevitabilis, he does not believe. God forbid that his Majesty should be put to that pinch. We have no invasions, no eighty-eights. That it is improvida he does verily believe. And therefore he thinks that in respect that it has grown by improvidence and is not inevitable, not to be supplied by the House.
Cannot the King as well live off his revenue as his ancestors? King Edward the 3d maintained wars in France 14 years before he had supply. Offices ought to be held and used by men of experience and understanding, of good years, judgment, and discretion, to execute such offices. Or else they were void in law, and so be our [books and] law cases: 3° Eliz., Dyer, Skrogges’s case and many other books. And a kingdom can never be well governed where unskillful and unfitting men are placed in great offices and hold the great offices of the kingdom. For if they are inexperienced and unskillful themselves, they cannot execute them or make choice of fit men under them by reason of want of experience and judgment. Neither are young and unskillful persons to be trusted with such great offices. Besides multiplicity of offices to be held by one man is a great prejudice to the merit of honor and his Majesty’s well-deserving subjects. And by this means that which was wont to be thought fit to advance divers as a reward of their good service or a token of his Majesty’s favor and grace and bestowed only upon men of great desert both of king and kingdom, is now held and engrossed by one man only which is neither safe for his Majesty nor profitable unto the kingdom. And whereas the king[s] might and anciently have rewarded many by one of these great offices upon one of his servants whom he found to be most fit for it and another and by such means keep his revenue to himself, it is now come to pass that by engrossing of offices his Majesty’s Exchequer stands charges with many pensions for the reward of service at least alleged. Nay, his ancient crown land granted away to gratify men in this kind.
The office of Admiral is the greatest office of trust about the King, for the benefit of the kingdom, it being an island consisting of trade, and therefore requires a man of great experience and judgment (which he cannot attain unto in a few years), and such a one as shall have spent his time in the understanding of it. And he says for his part were he to go to sea he had rather go with a man that had been once on the seas and able to guide and manage a ship or fleet than with him that had been 10 times at the haven.
The Master of the Ordnance was anciently a tradesman until 37 Hen. 8 and then it was conferred on a nobleman and ever since it has been in the nobility and was never well governed.
4° Ric.2 such granting of offices wrought a great disquiet in the state. 3 Hen. 7 oppression by subsidies made [a] rebellion. 14 Hen.8, when as great taxes were laid upon northernmen by the means of the Cardinal, the Earl of Northumberland being employed in the same the people slew him; the King he laid it upon his Council, his Council on the judges, and the judges on the Cardinal, and there it rested.
It has been told us that by the late King’s neutrality the wars increased, neutralitas nec amicos parit nec inimicos tollit, and as the case now stands it is a good project for the parliament and a worthy action to bring the King, that he may be able to subsist of his own estate which is now in a consumption. And the ship has a great leak which may be stopped yet, but if it be not stopped in time, it will all come to nought. And subsidies never given for the ordinary but for the extraordinary expenses of the King.
No state can subsist of himself in an honorable estate except it has 3 things.
First, free ability to support itself for his own necessaries and defense against any sudden invasion.
Secondly, that it must be able to aid his allies and foreign friends.
Thirdly, to reward his well-deserving servants. Theordinarytobedischarged by the ordinary.
The causes of defect [are] not for want of income, but through the ill ordering of it, which grows either by wasting or surcharging it. And therefore the remedy must be accordingly There is medicina removens and medicina renovans. He moves to have a committee to recollect the heads for memorials, which are great enemies to the revenue of the crown whereof fraud is one and instances what hurt it does in the customs. The officers bought their offices dear and they wink at the merchant. And then to make up all, there must be a medium and so the farmers grow rich. How is it else that he that was but a broken merchant lately, by farming the customs awhile, is now becomeworth 40 to 50,000 l.
Another is new-invented offices with large fees. 12 Edw.4, a complaint of the like nature for an office of Surveyor of the Brewer[s] with a large fee. And old offices with new fees [and new offices with new fees] to be repealed as by the law they may be with the love of the people and honor and profit of the King. President of York to cease, president of Wales to cease; they are both needless charges for the people who had rather to live under the government of the common laws. The western men had the same honor as may appear by the statute of 32 Hen.8, but they desired to be governed by the common laws and to shake off that honor. Another not to monopolize offices singula officia singulis teneantur sicut judices, every officer to live off his office and not to beg other things.
If the old offices and old orders were kept there would be no need of new tables and therefore Sir Simon Harvey by his will should out of his offices. And voluntary annuities and pensions to be retrenched are not bought and sold, and a new market kept of them as now it is. And all unnecessary charges and portage money twelve d. of the pound taken away whereas they make great gain of it themselves.
And overmuch bounty is another thing that is to be restrained. For here is no friend to the King or state that seeks a fee farm or a new office. The statute of 4 Hen.4: no man ought to beg any thing of the crown till the King be out of debt. This statute is called Brangwyn, which is Welsh for a white crow. They are like a crow ever craving, and for their sins they are white. In the time of want and dearth, as now it is, costly apparel, diet, and Lady Vanity is to be abandoned.
And thus much for medicina removens. Now for medicina renovans. The King has 31 forests, and parks almost without number. Every one of them is a great charge to the crown. And therefore those to be peopled, and what greater honor can be to the King than by building of churches and increasing of his people without doing wrong to others to grow rich. Besides, Ireland, which is now a very plentiful and rich nation (pray God it be not monopolized), by Holinshed it appears that in King Edward the 3d’s time yet it did yield clearly unto the crown 30,000 l. per annum and now is a great charge to the crown.
His project. There is no farmer that had any lease made unto him by King James but will give half a year’s rent, with all his heart, to have the same confirmed by King Charles. And if the King will take these courses he did hope, as old as he was, to live to see King Charles to be styled Charles the Great.
6 Edw. 3, numero 4°, a[nd] 5 Edw. 3, numero 5°. The Commons did petition the King to live off his own estate and there it is alleged that the ordinary revenue should maintain the ordinary charge. 27 Edw. 3, numero 9°, the King did not make a new charge to an old office.
6 Edw. 1 and 1 Hen. 5 upon an extraordinary aid and grievance the Commons show that the King ought to keep himself within his compass.
That shop boys be not taken from their shops and placed in the office of Green Cloth.
5 Hen. 4. 11 Hen. 6 numero 24 et 25, the Lord Cromwell being then Treasurer acquainted the Commons with the King’s revenue and his goings out and prayed them that the[y] would take a course to keep the King within his revenue. And in 1° Hen. 7 and 11 Hen. 7 the Commons confined his Majesty to his revenue.
August 10, 1625.
Ed.: In debate on the Supply.
Sir Edward Coke, who said, “That two leaks would drown any ship. That solum & malum concilium was a bottomless sieve. An officer should not be, cupidus alienae rei, parcus suae; avarus republicae; super omnia expertus. Misera servitus est, ubi lex incerta aut incognita. That in the 11th Hen. 3. Hubert de Burgh, chief justice, advised the king that Magna Charta was not to hold, because the king was under age when that act was made. He was created earl of Kent, but degraded for this some time after. In the 16th Hen. 3. Segrave, chief justice, was sentenced for giving sole counsel to the king against the common-wealth. That it was malum consilium to press more Subsidies when they had given two; and to bring them hither only for 40,000l. And, lastly, offered to give 1000l. out of his own estate, rather than grant any Subsidy now.” The result of all which was, resolution was then agreed on, “That a committee of the whole house should be appointed at eight o’clock the next morning, to consider what return to make to his maj’s message delivered this day.”