[English] Bill of Rights
Questions to consider when reading the Bill of Rights
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Source: Avalon Project
An Act Declareing the Rights and Liberties
of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crowne (1688).
Whereas the Lords Spirituall and Temporall
and Commons assembled at Westminster lawfully fully and freely representing
all the Estates of the People of this Realme did upon the thirteenth day
of February in the yeare of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty eight
present unto their Majesties then called and known by the Names and Stile
of William and Mary Prince and Princesse of Orange being present in their
proper Persons a certaine Declaration in Writeing made by the said Lords
and Commons in the Words following viz
Whereas the late King James the Second
by the Assistance of diverse evill Counsellors Judges and Ministers imployed
by him did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant Religion and
the Lawes and Liberties of this Kingdome:
 By Assumeing and Exerciseing a Power
of Dispensing with and Suspending of Lawes and the Execution of Lawes without
consent of Parlyament.
 By Committing and Prosecuting diverse
Worthy Prelates for humbly Petitioning to be excused from Concurring to
the said Assumed Power.
 By issueing and causeing to be executed
a Commission under the Great Seale for Erecting a Court called The Court
of Commissioners for Ecclesiasticall Causes.
 By Levying Money for and to the Use
of the Crown by pretence of Prerogative for other time and in other manner
than the same was granted by Parlyament.
 By raising and keeping a Standing
Army within this Kingdome in time of Peace without Consent of Parlyament
and Quartering Soldiers contrary to Law.
 By causing several good Subjects being
Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when Papists were both Armed
and Imployed contrary to Law.
 By Violating the Freedome of Election
of Members to serve in Parlyament.
 By Prosecutions in the Court of Kings
Bench for Matters and Causes cognizable onely in Parlyament and by diverse
other Arbitrary and Illegal Courses.
 And whereas of late years Partial
Corrupt and Unqualifyed Persons have been returned and served on Juryes
in Tryalls and particularly diverse Jurors in Tryalls for High Treason
which were not Freeholders.
 And excessive Baile hath beene required
of Persons committed in Criminall Cases to elude the Benefitt of the Lawes
made for the Liberty of the Subjects.
 And excessive Fines have been imposed.
 And illegall and cruell Punishments
 And severall Grants and Promises
made of Fines and Forfeitures before any Conviction or Judgement against
the Persons upon whome the same were to be levyed.
All which are utterly and directly contrary
to the known Lawes and Statutes and Freedome of this Realme.
And whereas the said late King James the
Second haveing Abdicated the Government and the Throne being thereby Vacant,
his [Highnesse] the Prince of Orange (whome it hath pleased Almighty God
to make the glorious Instrument of Delivering this Kingdome from Popery
and Arbitrary Power) did (by the advice of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall
and diverse principall Persons of the Commons) cause Letters to be written
to the Lords Spirituall and Temporall being Protestants and other Letters
to the severall Countyes Cityes Universities Burroughs and Cinque Ports
for the Choosing of such Persons to represent them as were of right to
be sent to Parlyament to meete and sitt at Westminster upon the two and
twentyeth day of January in this Yeare one thousand six hundred eighty
and eight in order to such an Establishment as that their Religion Lawes
and Liberties might not againe be in danger of being Subverted, Upon which
Letters Elections haveing beene accordingly made.
And thereupon the said Lords Spirituall
and Temporall and Commons pursuant to their respective Letters and Elections
being now assembled in a full and free Representative of this nation takeing
into their most serious Consideration the best meanes for attaining the
Ends aforesaid Doe in the first place (as their Auncestors in like Case
have usually done) for the Vindicating and Asserting their auntient Rights
and Liberties, Declare:
 That the pretended Power of Suspending
of Lawes or the Execution of Lawes by Regall Authority without Consent
of Parlyament is illegall.
 That the pretended Power of Dispensing
with Lawes or the Execution of Lawes by Regal Authoritie as it hath beene
assumed and exercised of late is illegall.
 That the Commission for erecting the
late Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiasticall Causes and all other Commissions
and Courts of like nature are Illegall and Pernicious.
 That levying Money for or to the Use
of the Crowne by pretence of Prerogative without Grant of Parlyament for
longer time or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted is
 That it is the Right of the Subjects
to petition the King and all Commitments and Prosecutions for such Petitioning
 That the raising or keeping a standing
Army within the Kingdome in time of Peace unlesse it be with Consent of
Parlyament is against Law.
 That the Subjects which are Protestants
may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed
 That Election of Members of Parlyament
ought to be free.
 That the Freedome of Speech and Debates
or Proceedings in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in
any Court or Place out of Parlyament.
 That excessive Baile ought not to
be required nor excessive Fines imposed nor cruell and unusuall Punishments
 That Jurors ought to be duely impannelled
and returned and Jurors which passe upon Men in Trialls for High Treason
ought to be Freeholders.
 That all Grants and Promises of Fines
and Forfeitures of particular persons before Conviction are illegall and
 And that for Redresse of all Grievances
and for the amending strengthening and preserveing of the Lawes Parlyaments
ought to be held frequently.
And they do Claime Demand and Insist upon
all and singular the Premises as their undoubted Rights and Liberties and
that noe Declarations Judgments Doeings or Proceedings to the Prejudice
of the People in any of the said Premisses ought in any wise to be drawne
hereafter into Consequence or Example. To which Demand of their Rights
they are particularly encouraged by the Declaration of his Highnesse the
Prince of Orange as being the onley means for obtaining a full Redresse
and Remedy therein.
Haveing therefore an entire Confidence
That his said Highnesse the Prince of Orange will perfect the Deliverance
so farr advanced by him and will still preserve them from the Violation
of their Rights which they have here asserted and from all other Attempts
upon their Religion Rights and Liberties. The said Lords Spirituall and
Temporall and Commons assembled at Westminster doe Resolve that William
and Mary Prince and Princesse of Orange be and be declared King and Queene
of England France and Ireland and the Dominions thereunto belonging to
hold the Crowne and Royall Dignity of the said Kingdomes and Dominions
to them the said Prince and Princesse dureing their Lives and the Life
of the Survivour of them. And that the sole and full Exercise of the Regall
Power be onely in and executed by the said Prince of Orange in the Names
of the said Prince and Princesse dureing their joynt Lives. And after their
Deceases the said Crowne and Royall Dignitie of the said Kingdoms and Dominions
to be to the Heires of the Body of the said Princesse and for default of
such issue to the Princess Anne of Denmarke and the Heires of her Body
And for default of such Issue to the Heires of the Body of the said Prince
of Orange. And the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons doe pray
the said Prince and Princesse to accept the same accordingly.
And that the Oathes hereafter mentioned
be taken by all Persons of whome the Oathes of Allegiance and Supremacy
might be required by Law instead of them. And that the said Oathes of Allegiance
and Supremacy be abrogated.
I doe sincerely promise and sweare That
I will be faithfull and beare true Allegiance to their Majestyes King William
and Queene Mary Soe helpe me God.
I doe sweare That I doe from my Heart
Abhorr, Detest and Abjure as Impious and Hereticall this damnable Doctrine
and Position That Princes Excommunicated or Deprived by the Pope or any
Authority of the See of Rome may be deposed or murdered by their Subjects
or any other whatsoever. And I do declare That noe Forreigne Prince Person
Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power
Superiority Preeminence or Authoritie Ecclesiastical or Spirituall within
this Realme Soe helpe me God.
Upon which their said Majestyes did accept
the Crown and Royall Dignitie of the Kingdoms of England France and Ireland
and the Dominions thereunto belonging according to the Resolution and Desire
of the said Lords and Commons contained in the said Declaration. And thereupon
their Majestyes were pleased That the said Lords Spirituall and Temporall
and Commons being the two Houses of Parlyament should continue to sitt
and with their Majesties Royall Concurrence make effectuall Provision for
the Setlement of the Religion Lawes and Liberties of this Kingdome soe
that the same for the future might not be in danger againe of being subverted,
to which the said Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons did agree
and proceede to act accordingly.
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