Second Bill to Exclude the Duke of York, 1680
In 1680 Parliament considered a number of bills in response to the so-called "Popish Plot" (a false Protestant claim that Catholics were conspiring to assassinate King Charles II). Among these bills was a failed attempt to exclude James, Duke of York (later King James II and VII) from the succession to the throne. These bills show that religious bigotry against Catholics was the foundation of opposition towards James.
On November 2, 1680, the House of Commons resolved unanimously, "that the Duke of York, being a Papist, and the hopes of his coming to the Crown, hath given the greatest countenance and encouragement to the present designs and conspiracies of the Papists against the King and Protestant Religion." The House of Commons further resolved (although not unanimously) "that a Bill be brought in to disable the Duke of York to inherit the Imperial Crown of this Realm."
The bill was given first reading in the House of Commons, November 4, 1680, and second reading, November 6, 1680. A Committee of the Whole House made some slight amendments to the bill and it was ingrossed, November 8, 1680. On November 11, 1680, the House of Commons gave third reading to the bill and ordered it carried up to the House of Lords.
The House of Lords received the bill from the House of Commons, November 15, 1680. That same day the House of Lords gave first reading to the bill. The House adjourned into committee, and when it resumed, a motion to reject the bill was passed; such a rejection on first reading is unusual. Some 25 lords signed a protest dissenting from this decision to reject the bill.
A printed version of the bill can be found on pages 113-114 of English Historical Documents, 1660-1714, edited by Andrew Browning (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1953).
An Act for securing of the Protestant religion by disabling James, Duke of York, to inherit the imperial crown of England and Ireland and the dominions and territories thereunto belonging.
Whereas James, Duke of York, is notoriously known to have been perverted from the Protestant to the popish religion, whereby not only great encouragement hath been given to the popish party to enter into and carry on most devilish and horrid plots and conspiracies for the destruction of His Majesty's sacred person and government, and for the extirpation of the true Protestant religion; but also if the said duke should succeed to the imperial crown of this realm, nothing is more manifest than that a total change of religion within these kingdoms would ensue. For the prevention whereof, be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that the said James, Duke of York, shall be, and is, by the authority of this present Parliament, excluded, and made for ever incapable to inherit, possess or enjoy the imperial crown of this realm, and of the kingdom of Ireland, and the dominions and territories to them, or either of them belonging; or to have, exercise or enjoy and dominion, power, jurisdiction or authority in the same kingdoms, dominions, or any of them.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if the said James, Duke of York, shall at any time hereafter, challenge, claim, or attempt to possess or enjoy, or shall take upon him to use or exercise any dominion, power, authority, or jurisdiction within the said kingdoms or dominions, or any of them, as king or chief magistrate of the same, that then he the said James, Duke of York, for every such offence, shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of high treason, and shall suffer the pains, penalties, and forfeitures as in cases of high treason.
And further, that if any person or persons whatsoever shall assist, aid, maintain, abet, or willingly adhere unto the said James, Duke of York, in such challenge, claim, or attempt, or shall of themselves attempt or endeavour to put or bring the said James, Duke of York, into the possession or exercise of any regal power, jurisdiction, or authority within the kingdoms and dominions aforesaid; or shall by writing or preaching, advisedly publish, maintain, or declare that he hath any right, title, or authority to the office of king or chief magistrate of the kingdoms and dominions aforesaid, that then every such person shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of high treason, and that he suffer and undergo the pains, penalties, and forfeitures aforesaid.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if the said James, Duke of York, shall at any time from and after the fifth of November, in the year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred and eighty return or come into or within any of the kingdoms or dominions aforesaid, that then he, the said James, Duke of York, shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of high treason, and shall suffer the pains, penalties, and forfeitures as in cases of high treason. And further, that if any person or persons whatsoever shall be aiding of assisting unto such return of the said James, Duke of York, that then every such person shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of high treason, and shall suffer as in cases of high treason.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that he the said James, Duke of York, or any other person being guilty of any of the treasons aforesaid, shall not be capable of or receive benefit by any pardon, otherwise than by Act of Parliament, wherein they shall be particularly named; and that no Noli prosequi, or order for stay of proceedings shall be received or allowed in, or upon any indictment for any of the offences mentioned in this act.
And be it further enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, that it shall and may be lawful to and for all magistrates, officers, and other subjects whatsoever of the kingdoms and dominions aforesaid, and they are hereby enjoined and required, to apprehend and secure the said James, Duke of York, and every other person offending in any of the premises, and with him or them in case of resistance to fight, and him or them by force to subdue, for all which actings, and for so doing, they are, and shall be by virtue of this act saved harmless and indemnified.
Provided, and it is hereby declared, that nothing in this act contained shall be construed, deemed, or adjudged to disenable any other person from inheriting and enjoying the imperial crown of the realms and dominions aforesaid (other than the said James, Duke of York). But that in case the said James, Duke of York, should survive His now Majesty, and the heirs of His Majesty's body, the said imperial crown shall descend to and be enjoyed by such person or persons successively during the life of the said James, Duke of York, as should have inherited and enjoyed the same in case the said James, Duke of York, were naturally dead, anything contained in this act to the contrary notwithstanding.
And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that during the life of the said James, Duke of York, this act shall be given in charge at every assizes and general sessions of the peace within the kingdoms, dominions, and territories aforesaid, and also shall be openly read in every cathedral, collegiate church, parish church and chapel within the aforesaid kingdoms, dominions, and territories, by the several respective parsons, vicars, curates, and readers thereof, who are hereby required immediately after divine service in the fore-noon to read the same twice in every year, that is to say, on the five and twentieth day of December, and upon Easter Day, during the life of the said James, Duke of York.
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