Petition of right, theThe Petition of Right is memorable as the first statutory restriction of the powers of the crown since the accession of the Tudor dynasty. Yet, though the principles laid down in it had the widest possible bearing, its remedies were not intended to apply to all questions which had arisen or might arise between the crown and the Parliament, but merely to those which had arisen since Charles's accession. Parliament had waived, for the present at least, the consideration of Buckingham's misconduct. It had also waived the consideration of the question of impositions. The motives of the Commons in keeping silence on the impositions were probably twofold. In the first place, they probably wished to deal separately with the new grievances, because in dealing with them they would restrain the King's power to make war without Parliamentary consent. The refusal of tonnage and poundage would restrain his power to govern in time of peace. In the second place, they had a tonnage and poundage bill before them. Such a bill had been introduced into each of the preceding Parliaments, but in each case an early dissolution had hindered its consideration, and the long debates on the Petition of Right now made it impossible to proceed further with it in the existing session. Yet, for three years the King had been collecting tonnage and poundage, just as he collected the impositions—that is to say, as if he had no need of a Parliamentary grant. The Commons therefore proposed to save the right of Parliament by voting tonnage and poundage for a single year, and to discuss the matter at length the following session. When the King refused to accept this compromise they had recourse to the bold assertion that the Petition of Right had settled the question in their favor. Charles answered by proroguing Parliament, and took occasion in so doing to repudiate the doctrine which they advanced.—Gardiner.
June 7, 1628. The Petition exhibited to His Majesty by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, concerning divers Rights and Liberties of the Subjects, with the King's Majesty's Royal Answer thereunto in full Parliament. To the King's Most Excellent Majesty. Humbly show 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 time of the reign of King Edward the First, commonly called, Statutum de Tallagio non concedendo,1 that no tallage or aid shall be laid or levied by the King or his heirs in this realm, without the goodwill and assent of the Archbishops, Bishops, Earls, Barons, Knights, Burgesses, and other the freemen of the commonalty of this realm; and by authority of Parliament holden in the five and twentieth year of the reign of King Edward the Third, it is declared and enacted, that from thenceforth no person shall be compelled to make any loans to the King against his will, because such loans were against reason and the franchise of the land; and by other laws of this realm it is provided, that none should  be charged by any charge or imposition, called a Benevolence, or by such like charge, by which the statutes before-mentioned, and other the good laws and statutes of this realm, your subjects have inherited this freedom, that they should not be compelled to contribute to any tax, tallage, aid, or other like charge, not set by common consent in Parliament: Yet nevertheless, of late divers commissions directed to sundry Commissioners in several counties with instructions have issued, by means whereof your people have been in divers places assembled, and required to lend certain sums of money upon your Majesty, and many of them upon their refusal so to do, have had an oath administered unto them, not warrantable by the laws or statutes of this realm, and have been constrained to become bound to make appearance and give attendance before your Privy Council, and in other places, and others of them have been therefore imprisoned, confined, and sundry other ways molested and disquieted: and divers other charges have been laid and levied upon your people in several counties, by Lords Lieutenants, Deputy Lieutenants, Commissioners for Musters, Justices of Peace and others, by command or direction from your Majesty or your Privy Council, against the laws and free customs of this realm: And where also by the statute called, “The Great charter of the liberties of England,” it is declared and enacted, that no freeman may be taken or imprisoned or be disseised of his freeholds or liberties, or his free customs, or be outlawed or exiled; or in any manner destroyed, but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land: And in the eight and twentieth year of the reign of King Edward the Third, it was declared and enacted by authority of Parliament, that no man of what estate or condition that he be, should be put out of his lands or tenements, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without being brought to answer by due process of law: Nevertheless, against the tenor of the said statutes, and other the good laws and statutes of your realm, to that end provided, divers of your subjects have of late been imprisoned without any cause showed, and when for their deliverance they were brought before your Justices, by your Majesty's writs of Habeas Corpus, there to undergo and receive as the Court should order, and their keepers commanded to certify the causes of their detainer; no cause was certified, but that they were detained by your Majesty's special command, signified by the Lords of your Privy Council, and yet were returned back to several prisons, without being charged with anything to which they might make answer according to the law; And whereas of late great companies of soldiers and mariners have been dispersed into divers counties of the realm, and the inhabitants against their wills have been compelled to receive them into their houses, and there to suffer them to sojourn, against the laws and customs of this realm, and to the great grievance and vexation of the people: And whereas also by authority of Parliament, in the 25th year of the reign of King Edward the Third, it is declared and enacted, that no man shall be forejudged of life or limb against the form of the Great Charter, and the law of the land: and by the said Great Charter and other the laws and statutes of this your realm, no man ought to be adjudged to death; but by the laws established in this your realm, either by the customs of the same realm or by Acts of Parliament: and whereas no offender of what kind soever is exempted from the proceedings to be used, and punishments to be inflicted by the laws and statutes of this your realm: nevertheless of late divers commissions under your Majesty's Great Seal have issued forth, by which certain persons have been assigned and appointed Commissioners with power and authority to proceed within the land, according to the justice of martial law against such soldiers and mariners, or other dissolute persons joining with them, as should commit any murder, robbery, felony, mutiny, or other outrage or misdemeanour whatsoever, and by such summary course and order, as is agreeable to martial law, and is used in armies in time of war, to proceed to the trial and condemnation of such offenders, and them to cause to be executed and put to death, according to the law martial:  By pretext whereof, some of your Majesty's subjects have been by some of the said Commissioners put to death, when and where, if by the laws and statutes of the land they had deserved death, by the same laws and statutes also they might, and by no other ought to have been, adjudged and executed: And also sundry grievous offenders by colour thereof, claiming an exemption, have escaped the punishments due to them by the laws and statutes 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 laws and statutes, upon pretence that the said offenders were punishable only by martial law, and by authority of such commissions as aforesaid, which commissions, and all other of like nature, are wholly and directly contrary to the said laws and statutes of this your realm: They do therefore humbly pray your Most Excellent Majesty, that no man hereafter be compelled to make or yield any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge, without common consent by Act of Parliament; and that none be called to make answer, or take such oath, or to give attendance, or be confined, or otherwise molested or disquieted concerning the same, or for refusal thereof; and that no freeman, in any such manner as is before-mentioned, be imprisoned or detained; and that your Majesty will be pleased to remove the said soldiers and mariners, and that your people may not be so burdened in time to come; and that the foresaid commissions for proceeding by martial law, may be revoked and annulled; and that hereafter no commissions of like nature may issue forth to any person or persons whatsoever, to be executed as aforesaid, lest by colour of them any of your Majesty's subjects be destroyed or put to death, contrary to the laws and franchise of the land. All which they most humbly pray of your Most Excellent Majesty, as their rights and liberties according to the laws and statutes of this realm: and that your Majesty would also vouchsafe to declare, that the awards, doings, 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 Majesty would be also graciously pleased, for the further comfort and safety 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 laws and statutes of this realm, as they tender the honour of your Majesty, and the prosperity of this kingdom. [Which Petition being read the 2nd of June 1628, the King's answer was thus delivered unto it. The King willeth that right be done according to the laws and customs of the realm; 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 as well obliged as of his prerogative. On June 7 the answer was given in the accustomed form, Soit droit fait comme il est desire.]
The remonstrance against tonnage and poundage.
June 25, 1628.Most Gracious Sovereign, your Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, being in nothing more careful than of the honour and prosperity of your Majesty, and the kingdom, which they know do much depend upon that happy union and relation betwixt your Majesty and your people, do with much sorrow apprehend, that by reason of the incertainty of their continuance together, the unexpected interruptions which have been cast upon them, and the shortness of time in which your Majesty hath determined to end this Session, they cannot bring to maturity and perfection divers businesses of weight, which they have taken into their consideration and resolution, as most important for the common good: amongst other things they have taken into especial care the preparing of a Bill for the granting of your Majesty such a subsidy of Tonnage and Poundage, as might uphold your profit and revenue in as ample a manner as their just care and respect of trade (wherein not only the prosperity, but even the life of the kingdom doth  consist) would permit: but being a work which will require much time, and preparation by conference with your Majesty's officers, and with the merchants, not only of London, but of other remote parts, they find it not possible to be accomplished at this time: wherefore considering it will be much more prejudicial to the right of the subject, if your Majesty should continue to receive the same without authority of law, after the determination of a Session, than if there had been a recess by adjournment only, in which case that intended grant would have related to the first day of the Parliament; and assuring themselves that your Majesty is resolved to observe that your royal answer, which you have lately made to the Petition of Right of both Houses of Parliament; yet doubting lest your Majesty may be misinformed concerning this particular case, as if you might continue to take those subsidies of Tonnage and Poundage, and other impositions upon merchants, without breaking that answer, they are forced by that duty which they owe to your Majesty, and to those whom they represent, to declare, that there ought not any imposition to be laid upon the goods of merchants, exported or imported, without common consent by Act of Parliament, which is the right and inheritance of your subjects, founded not only upon the most ancient and original constitution of this kingdom, but often confirmed and declared in divers statute laws. And for the better manifestation thereof, may it please your Majesty to understand, that although your royal predecessors the Kings of this realm have often had such subsidies, and impositions granted unto them, upon divers occasions, especially for the guarding of the seas, and safe-guard of merchants; yet the subjects have been ever careful to use such cautions, and limitations in those grants, as might prevent any claim to be made, that such subsidies do proceed from duty, and not from the free gift of the subjects: and that they have heretofore used to limit a time in such grants, and for the most part but short, as for a year or two, and if it were continued longer, they have sometimes directed a certain space of cessation, or intermission, that so the right of the subject might be more evident. At other times it hath been granted upon occasion of war, for a certain number of years, with proviso, that if the war were ended in the meantime, then the grant should cease; and of course it hath been sequestered into the hands of some subjects to be employed for the guarding of the seas. And it is acknowledged by the ordinary answers of your Majesty's predecessors in their assent to the Bills of subsidies of Tonnage and Poundage, that it is of the nature of other subsidies, proceeding from the goodwill of the subject. Very few of your predecessors had it for life, until the reign of Henry VII,2 who was so far from conceiving he had any right thereunto, that although he granted commissions for collecting certain duties and customs due by law, yet lie made no commissions for receiving the subsidy of Tonnage and Poundage, until the same was granted unto him in Parliament. Since his time all the Kings and Queens of this realm have had the like grants for life by the free love and goodwill of the subjects. And whensoever the people have been grieved by laying any impositions or other charges upon their goods and merchandises without authority of law (which hath been very seldom), yet upon complaint in Parliament they have been forthwith relieved; saving in the time of your royal father, who having through ill counsel raised the rates and charges upon merchandises to that height at which they now are, yet he was pleased so far forth to yield to the complaint of his people, as to offer that if the value of those impositions which he had set might be made good unto him, he would bind himself and his heirs by Act of Parliament never to lay any other; which offer the Commons at that time, in regard of the great burden, did not think fit to yield unto. Nevertheless, your loyal Commons in this Parliament, out of their especial zeal to your service, and especial regard of your pressing occasions, have taken into their consideration, so to frame a grant of subsidy of Tonnage or Poundage to your Majesty, that both you might have been the better enabled for the defence of your realm, and your subjects, by being  secure from all undue charges, be the more encouraged cheerfully to proceed in their course of trade; by the increase whereof your Majesty's profit, and likewise the strength of the kingdom would be very much augmented. But not now being able to accomplish this their desire, there is no course left unto them, without manifest breach of their duty, both to your Majesty and their country, save only to make this humble declaration, “That the receiving of Tonnage and Poundage, and other impositions not granted by Parliament, is a breach of the fundamental liberties of this kingdom, and contrary to your Majesty's royal answer to the said Petition of Right.” And therefore they do most humbly beseech your Majesty to forbear any further receiving of the same, and not to take it in ill part from those of your Majesty's loving subjects, who shall refuse to make payment of any such charges, without warrant of law demanded. And as by this forbearance, your Most Excellent Majesty shall manifest unto the world your royal justice in the observation of your laws: so they doubt not, but hereafter, at the time appointed for their coming again, they shall have occasion to express their great desire to advance your Majesty's honour and profit.
The King's speech at the prorogation of parliament at the end of the session of 1628.
June 26, 1628.It may seem strange, that I came so suddenly to end this Session; before I give my assent to the Bills, I will tell you the cause, though I must avow, that I owe the account of my actions to God alone. It is known to every one, that a while ago the House of Commons gave me a Remonstrance,3 how acceptable every man may judge; and for the merit of it, I will not call that in question, for I am sure no wise man can justify it. Now since I am truly informed, that a second Remonstrance is preparing for me to take away the profit of my Tonnage and Poundage, one of the chiefest maintenances of my Crown, by alleging I have given away my right thereto by my answer to your Petition: This is so prejudicial unto me, that I am forced to end this Session some few hours before I meant, being not willing to receive any more Remonstrances, to which I must give a harsh answer. And since I see that even the House of Commons begins already to make false constructions of what I granted in your Petition, lest it be worse interpreted in the country, I will now make a declaration concerning the true intent thereof: The profession of both Houses in the time of hammering this Petition, was no ways to trench upon my Prerogative, saying they had neither intention or power to hurt it. Therefore it must needs be conceived that I have granted no new, but only confirmed the ancient liberties of my subjects: yet to show the clearness of my intentions, that I neither repent, nor mean to recede from anything I have promised you, I do here declare myself, that those things which have been done, whereby many have had some cause to expect the liberties of the subjects to be trenched upon,—which indeed was the first and true ground of the Petition,—shall not hereafter be drawn into example for your prejudice, and from time to time; in the word of a king, ye shall not have the like cause to complain: but as for Tonnage and Poundage, it is a thing I cannot want, and was never intended by you to ask, nor meant by me—I am sure —to grant. To conclude, I command you all that are here to take notice of what I have spoken at this time, to be the true intent and meaning of what I granted you in your Petition; but especially, you my Lords the Judges, for to you only under me belongs the interpretation of laws, for none of the Houses of Parliament, either joint or separate, (what new doctrine soever may be raised) have any power either to make or declare a law without my consent.