previous next


IN speaking of parlement lawe, I haue in the chapiter precedent said somewhat of this high and most honorable court. Wherefore it shall not néed to remember ought héere that is there touched: I will onelie śpeake of other things therefore concerning the estate of assemblie, whereby the magnificence thereof shall be in some part better knowne vnto such as shall come after vs. This house hath the most high and absolute power of the realme, for thereby kings and mightie princes haue from time to time béene deposed from their thrones, lawes either enacted or abrogated, offendors of all sorts punished, and corrupted religion either dissanulied or reformed, which commonlie is diuided into two houses or parts, the
The parlement housc diuidcth the estate of the reabne into nobilitic and the commons. higher or vpper hous econsisting of the nobilitie, including all euen vnto the baron and bishop: the lower called the nether house of knights, squires, gentlemen, and burgesses of the cormmons, with whome also the inferior members of the cleargie are ioined, albeit they sit in diuerse places, and these haue to deale onelie in matters of religion, till it come that they ioine with the rest in confirmation of all such acts as are to passe in the same. For without the consent of the thrée estates, that is, of the nobilitie, cleargie, and laietie, sildome anie thing is said to be concluded vpon, and brought vnto the prince for his consent and allowance. To be short, whatsoeuer the people of Rome did in their Centuriatis or Tribunitijs comitijs, the same is and may be doone by authoritie of our parlement house, which is the head and bodie of all the realme, and the place wherein euerie particular person is intended to be present, if not by himselfe, yet by his aduocate or atturneie. For this cause also any thing ther enacted is not to be misliked, but obeied of all men without contradiction or grudge. By the space of fortie dais, before this assemblie be begun, the prince sendeth his Timle of summons. writs vnto all his nobilitie particularlie, summoning them to appeare at the said court. The like he doth to the shiriffe of euerie countie; with commandement to choose two knights within ech of their counties, to giue their aduise in the name of the shire, likewise to euerie citie and towne, that they may choose their burgesses, which commonlie are men best skilled in the state of their citie or towne, either for the declaration of such benefits as they want, or to shew which waie to reforme such enormities as thorough the practises of ill members are practised and crept in among them: the first being chosen by the gentlemen of the shire, the other by the citizens and burgesses of euerie citie and towne, whereby that court is furnished. The first daie of the parlement being come, the lords of the vpper house, as well Of the vpper house. ecclesiasticall as temporall, doo attend vpon the prince, who rideth thither in person, as it were to open the doore of their authoritie; and being come into the place, after praiers made, and causes shewed, wherefore sonme not present are inforced to be absent, each man taketh his place according to his degrée. The house it selfe is curiouslie furnished with tapisterie, and the king being set in his throne, the spirituall lords take vp the side of the house which is on the right hand of the prince, and the temporall lords the left, I meane, so Places of the peeros. well dukes and earles, as viscounts and barons, as I before remembred. In the middest and a pretie distance from the prince, lie certeine sackes stuffed with wooll or haire, wheron the iudges of the realme, the master of the rols, and secretaries of estate doo sit. Howbeit these iudges haue no voice in the house, but onelie shew what their opinion is of such & such matters as come in question among the lords, if they be commanded so to doo: as the secretaries are to answer such letters or things passed in the councell, whereof they haue the custodie & knowledge. Finallie, the consent of this house is giuen by each man seuerallie, first for himselfe being present, then seuerallie for so manie as he hath letters & proxies directed vnto him, saieng onelie; Content or Not content, without any further debating. Of the number assembled in the lower house, I haue alreadie made a generall report in the chapter precedent, and their particulars shall follow here at hand. These therefore being called ouer Of the lower house. Speaker. by name do choose a speaker, who is as it were their mouth, and him they present vnto the prince, in whom it is either to refuse or admit him by the lord chancellor, who in the princes name dooth answer vnto his oration, made at his first entrance & presentation into the house, wherein he declareth the good liking that the king hath conceiued of his choise vnto that office Petitions of the speaker. & function. Being admitted, he maketh fiue requests vnto that honorable assemblie, first that the house may (as in times past) inioy hir former liberties and priuileges: secondlie, that the congregates may frankelie shew their minds vpon such matters as are to come in question: thirdlie, that if anie of the lower house doo giue anie cause of offense during the continuance of this assemblie, that the same may inflict such punishment vpon the partie culpable, as to the said assemblie shall be thought conuenient: fourthlie, if anie doubt should arise among them of the lower house, that he in their name might haue frée accesse and recourse vnto his maiestie & lords of the higher house, to be further instructed and resolued n the same: fiftlie and last, he craueth pardon for himselfc, if in his going to and fro betweene the houses, he forget or mistake anie thing, requiring that he may returne and be better informed in such things as he did faile in without offense: vnto which petitions the lord chancellor dooth answer as apperteineth, and this is doone on the first daie, or peraduenture the second, if it could not be conuenientlie performed in the first.

Clerke of the parlement. Beside the lord chancellor there is another in the vpper house called the clerke of the parlement, whose office is to read the billes. For euerie thing that commeth in consultation in either house, is first put in writing in paper, which being read, he that listeth riseth vp and speaketh either with it or against it, and so one after another so long as they shall thinke good; that doone they go to another, and so to the third, &c: the instrument still wholie or in part raced or reformed, as cause moueth for the amendment of the same if the substance be reputed necessarie. In the vpper house the lord chancellor demandeth if they will haue it ingrossed, that is to saie, put in parchment, which doone, it is read the third time, & after debating of the matter to and fro if the more part doo conclude withall, vpon the vtterance of these words, "Are ye contented that it be enacted or no?" the clerke writeth vnderneath "Soit baille aux commons," and so when they sée time they send such billes approued to the commons by some of them that sit on the wooll sackes, who comming into the house, & demanding licence to speake, doo vse this kind of words or the like to the speaker, as sir Thomas Smith dooth deliuer and set them downe, whose onelie direction I vse, and almost word for word in this chapter, requiting him with the like borowage as he hath vsed toward me in his discourse of the sundrie degrées of estates in the common-wealth of England, which (as I hope) shall be no discredit to his trauell. " Master speaker, my lords of the vpper house haue passed amongst them, and thinke good that there should be enacted by parlement such an act, and such an act (reading their titles in such sort as he receiued them) they praie you therefore to consider & shew your aduise vpon them." Which doone they go their waie, and the doore being shut after them, the speaker declareth what message was sent vnto them, and if they be then void of consultation vpon anie other bill, he presentlie demandeth what their pleasures are, first of one, then of another, &c: which are solemnelie read, or their contents bréeflie shewed and then debated vpon among them.

Of the nether house. The speaker sitteth in a chaire erected somewhat higher than the rest, that he may sée and be séene of all men, and before him on a lower seat sitteth his clerke, who readeth such bils as be first propounded in the lower house, or sent downe from the lords: for in that point each house hath equail authoritie to propound what they thinke méet, either for the abrogation of old or making of new lawes. All bils be thrise and on diuerse daies read and disputed vpon before they come to the question, which is, whether they shall be enacted or not; and in discourse vpon them, verie good order is vsed in the lower house, wherein he that will speake giueth notice thereof by standing vp bare headed. If manie stand vp at once (as now & then it happeneth) he speaketh first that was first seene to moue out of his place, and telleth his tale vnto the speaker, without rehersall of his name whose speches he meaneth to confute, so that with a perpetuall oration & not with altercation these discourses are continued. But as the partie confuted may not replie on that daie, so one man can not speake twise to one bill in one daie though he would change his opinion, but on the next he may speake againe, & yet but once as afere. No vile, seditious, vnreuerent or biting words are vsed in this assemblie, yet if anie happen to escape and be vttered, the partie is punished according to the censure of the assemblie and custome in that behalfe. In the afternoone they sit not except vpon some vrgent occasion, neither hath the speaker aníe voice in that house, wherewith to moue or dissuade the furtherance or staie of anie bill, but his office is vpon the reading thereof breeflie to declare the contents. If anie bill passe, which commeth vnto them from the lords, it is thus subscribed, "Les commons ont assentus:" so if the lords agree vpon anie bill sent vnto them from the commons, it is subscribed after this maner, "Les seigniours ont assentus." If it be not agreed on after thrise reading, there is conference required and had betwéene the vpper and nether houses, by certeine appointed for that purpose vpon the points in question, wherevpon if no finall agréement by the more part can be obteined, the bill is dashed and reiected, or (as the saieng is) cleane cast out of the doores, None of the nether house can giue his voice by proxie but in his owne person, and after the bill twise read, then ingrossed and the third time read againe & discoursed vpen, the speaker asketh if they will go to the question, whervnto if they agree he holdeth vp the bill & saith; "So manie as will haue this bill go forward saie Yea:" hervpon so manie as allow of the thing crie Yea, the other No, & as the crie is more or lesse on either side, so is the bill to stale or else go forward. If the number of negatiue and affirmatiue voices seeme to be equall, so manie as allow of the bill go downe withall, the rest sit still, and being told by the poll the greater part doo carrie away the matter, If something be allowed and in some part reiected, the bill is put to certeine committées to be amended, & then being brought in againe, it is read and passeth or staieth as the voices yéeld therto. This is the order of the passage of our lawes, which are not ratified till both houses haue agréed vnto them, and yet not holden for law till the prince haue giuen his assent. Vpon the last daie therfore of the parlement or session, the prince commeth in person againe into the house, in his robes as at the first. Where after thanks giuen to the prince, first in the name of the lords by the lord chancellor, then in the name of the commons by the speaker for his great care of the welfare of his realme, &c: the lord chancellor in the princes name giueth thanks to the lords & commons likewise for their paines, with promise of recompense as opportunitie & occasion shall serue therefore. This doone one readeth the title of euerie act passed in that session, and then it is noted vpon them what the prince doth allow of with these words, "Le roy veult." If the prince like not of them, it is written vpon them "Le roy aduisera." And so those acts are dashed, as the other from thencefoorth are taken and holden for law, and all imprinted except such as concerne some priuat persons, which are onelie exemplified vnder the seale of the parlement, as priuileges to his vse. And this is the summe of the maner after which our parlements in England are holden, without which no forfaiture of life, member or lands of anie Englishman, where no law is ordeined for the same before hand, is auailable or can take place amongst vs. And so much in maner out of the third chapiter of the second booke of the common-wealth of England written by sir Thomas Smith: whervnto I will annex a table of the counties, cities, boroughs and ports, which send knights, burgesses, and barons to the parlement house, and dooth insue as followeth.


The borough of Bedford.2
The borough of Buckingham.2
The borough of Wickombe.2
The borough of Ailesburie.2
The borough of New Windsore.2
The borough of Reading.2
The borough of Wallingford.2
The borough of Abington.2
The borough of Launceston aliás Newport.2
The borough of Leskerd.2
The borough of Lostwithiell.2
The borough of Dunheuet.2
The borough of Truro.2
The borough of Bodmin.2
The borough of Helston.2
The borough of Saltash.2
The borough of Camelford.2
The borough of Portighsam alias Portlow.2
The borough of Graunpount. 
The borough of Eastlow.2
The borough of Prurie.2
The borough of Tregonie.2
The borough of Trebenna aliás Bossinnie.2
The borough of S. Ies.2
The borough of Fowaie.2
The borough of Germine.2
The borough of Michell.2
The borough of saint Maries.2
The citie of Caerleill.2
The borough of Cambridge.2
The citie of Chester.2
The borough of Darbie.2
The citie of Excester.2
The borough of Totnes.2
The borough of Plimmouth.2
The borough of Bardnestable.2
The borough of Plimton.2
The borough of Tauestocke.2
The borough of Dartmouth, Clifton, and Herdines.2
The borough of Poole.2
The borough of Dorchester.2
The borough of Linne.2
The borough of Melcombe.2
The borough of Waiemouth.2
The borough of Bureport.2
The borough of Shaftesburie.2
The borough of Warham.2
The borough of Colchester.2
The borough of Malden.2
The citie of Yorke.2
The borough of Kingston vpon Hull.2
The borough of Knaresborough.2
The borough of Skardborough.2
The borough of Rippon.2
The borough of Hudon.2
The borough of Boroughbridge.2
The borough of Thuske.2
The borough of Aldebrough.2
The borough of Beuerleie.2
The citie of Glocester.2
The borough of Cirencester.2
The borough of Huntingdon.2
The borough of saint Albons.2
The citie of Hereford.2
The borough of Lempster.2
The citie of Canturburie.2
The citie of Rochester.2
The borough of Maidstone.2
The borough of Quinborough.2
The citie of Lincolne.2
The borough of Bostone.2
The borough of great Grinesbie.2
The borough of Stamford.2
The borough of Grantham.2
The borough of Leicester.2
The borough of Lancaster.2
The borough of Prestion in Andernes.2
The borough of Liuerpoole.2
The borough of Newton.2
The borough of Wigan.2
The borough of Clithero.2
The citie of London.4
The citie of Westminster.2
The borough of Monmouth.1
The citie of Peterborough.2
The borough of Northhampton.2
The borough of Barkleie.2
The borough of Higham Ferres.1
The borough of Notingham.2
The borough of Estreatford.2
The citie of Norwich.2
The borough of Linne.2
The borough of great Iernemouth.2
The borough of Thetford.2
The borough of castell Rising.2
The borough of New castell vpon Tine2
The borough of Mcrpeth.2
The borough of Barwike.2
The citie of Oxford.2
The borough of Bamburie.2
The borough of Woodstocke.2
The borough of Southwarke.2
The borough of Blechingleigh.2
The borough of Rigate.2
The borough of Guildford.2
The borough of Gatton.2
The citie of Lichfield.2
The borough of Stratford.2
The borough of New castell vnder Linne.2
The borough of Tamworth.2
The borough of Salop.2
The borough of Bruges aliás Bridgenorth.2
The borough of Ludlow.2
The borough of Wenlocke.2
The citie of Winton.2
The borough of Southampton.2
The borough of Portesmouth.2
The borough of Peterfield.2
The borough of Stockebridge.2
The borough of Christ church.2
The borough of Ippeswich.2
The borough of Dunwich.2
The borough of Ortford.2
The borough of Aldeborough.2
The borough of Subdurie.2
The borough of Eya.2
The citie of Bristow.2
The citie of Bath.2
The citie of Welles.2
The borough of Taunton.2
The borough of Bridgewater.2
The borough of Minehed.2
The citie of Chichester.2
The borough of Horsham.2
The borough of Midhurst.2
The borough of Lewes.2
The borough of Shorham.2
The borough of Brember.2
The borough of Stening.2
The borough of Eastgrenesteed.2
The borough of Arundell.2
The borough of Appulbie.2
The citie of New Sarum.2
The borough of Wilton.2
The borough of Dounton.2
The borough of Hindon.2
The borough of Heitesburie.2
The borough of Westburie.2
The borough of Caine.2
The borough of Deuises.2
The borough of Chipenham.2
The borough of Malmesburie.2
The borough of Cricklade.2
The borough of Budwin.2
The borough of Ludgesale.2
The borough of Old Sarum.2
The borough of Wotton Basset.2
The borough of Marleborough.2
The citie of Worcester.2
The borough of Withée.2
The citie of Couentrie.2
The borough of Warwike.2
Barons of the ports.
The borough of Mountgomerie.1
The borough of Flint.1
The borough of Denbigh.1
The borough of Hauerfordwest.1
The borough of Carneruan.1
The borough of Beaumares.1
The borough of new Carmarden.1
The borough of Pembroke.1
The borough of Cairdigan.1
The borough of Brecknoch.1
The borough of Radnor.1
The borough of Cardiffe.1

The summe of the foresaid number of the common house videlicet, of


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: