Declaration of King James II about the Ensuing Parliament, September 21, 1688

On August 24, 1688, King James II ordered that writs be prepared for the calling of a Parliament for November. The writs were issued September 19. Two days later he issued the following declaration which clearly enunciated his intention to obtain parliamentary support for the religious toleration he had already set in motion. But the declaration also included a compromise: that Catholics would continue to be ineligible for election to the House of Commons.

A printed version of the text can be found in issue 2384 of The London Gazette, September 20 - 24, 1688.

James R.

Having already signified our pleasure to call a Parliament to meet at our City of Westminster in November next, and writs of summons being issued out accordingly, lest those whose right it is to choose Members of Parliament should be under any prejudices and mistakes through the artifices of disaffected persons, we think fit to declare that, as it is our royal pupose to endeavour a legal establishment of an universal liberty of conscience for all our subjects, it is also our resolution inviolably to preserve the Church of England by such a confirmation of the several acts of uniformity that they shall never be altered any other way than by repealing the several clauses which inflict penalties upon persons not promoted or to be promoted to any ecclesiastical benefices or promotions within the meaning of the said acts for using and exercising their religion contrary to the tenor and purpose of the said acts of uniformity. And for the further securing not only the Church of England but the Protestant religion in general, we are willing the Roman Catholics shall remain incapable to be Members of the House of Commons, whereby those fears and apprehensions will be removed, which many persons have had that the legislative authority would be engrossed by them and turned against Protestants.

We do likewise assure all our loving subjects that we shall be ready to do everything else for their safety and advantage that becomes a king who will always take care of his people. And if they desire the happiness of their country, we exhort them to lay by all animosities, and dispose themselves to think of such persons to represent them in Parliament whose abilities and temper render them fit for so great and good a work.

And for the preventing of any disorders, irregularities, or undue proceedings whatsoever that may happen either before or at the time of election of members for the ensuing Parliament, we do hereby strictly require and command all mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, and other officers whatsoever to whom the execution of any writ, summons, warrant or precept for or concerning the choice of members for the ensuing Parliament shall belong, that they cause such writ, summons, warrant or precept to be duly published and executed according to the tenor thereof, and the members that shall be chosen to be fairly returned according to the true merits of the choice.

Given at our court at Whitehall, the one and twentieth day of September, 1688, in the fourth year of our reign.

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