Speech of King James II to the Privy Council, February 7, 1685

King Charles II died on February 6, 1685. The next day King James II presided for the first time at a meeting of the Privy Council. Although the king spoke without notes, the members of the Council asked that his speech be published. Heneage Finch (brother of the Earl of Nottingham) had taken notes, and the king approved this version.

The text was published as An Account of what His Majesty Said at his First Coming to Council, printed at London by the assigns of John Bill, deceased, and by Henry Hills and Thomas Newcomb, 1684 [i.e. 1685] (Wing J150).

My Lords,

Before I enter upon any other business, I think fit to say something to you. Since it has pleased Almighty God to place me in this station, and I am now to succeed so good and gracious a king as well as so very kind a brother, I think it fit to declare to you that I will endeavour to follow his example, and most especially in that of his great clemency and tenderness to his people. I have been reported to be a man for arbitrary power, but that is not the only story [which] has been made of me. And I shall make it my endeavours to preserve this government both in Church and state as it is now by law established. I know the principles of the Church of England are for monarchy, and the members of it have showed themselves good and loyal subjects; therefore I shall always take care to defend and support it. I know too that the laws of England are sufficient to make the king as great a monarch as I can wish. And as I shall never depart from the just rights and prerogative of the Crown, so I shall never invade any mans property. I have often heretofore ventured my life in defence of this nation, and I shall still go as far as any man in preserving it in all its just rights and liberties.

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