Counterfeit Declaration of the Prince of Orange, November 28, 1688
The following declaration was supposed to have been issued by the Prince of Orange, but he totally disowned it. The historian Laurence Echard (d. 1730) says that it may have been the work of Robert Ferguson or of Samuel Johnson (not the lexicographer). In his Secret History of the Revolution (1715), Hugh Speke claims to have been the author.
A printed version of the text can be found on pages 13 - 15 of volume 5 of The Parliamentary History of England, edited by William Cobbett (London: Printed by T. C. Hansard, 1809).
We have in the course of our whole life, and more particularly by the apparent hazards both by sea and land, to which we have so lately exposed our person, given to the whole world so high and undoubted proofs of our fervent zeal for the Protestant religion, that we are fully confident no true Englishman and good Protestant can entertain the least suspicion of our firm resolution, rather to spend our dearest blood and perish in the attempt, than not carry on the blessed and glorious design which by the favour of heaven we have so successfully begun, to rescue England, Scotland, and Ireland from slavery and popery, and in a free Parliament to establish the religion, the laws, and the liberties of those kingdoms upon such a sure and lasting foundation, that it shall not be in the power of any prince for the future to introduce popery and tyranny.
Towards the more easy compassing this great design, we have not been hitherto deceived in the just expectation we had of the concurrence of the nobility, gentry, and people of England with us, for the security of their religion, the restitution of the laws, and the re-establishment of their liberties and properties. Great numbers of all ranks and qualities having joined themselves to us, and others at great distances from us have taken up arms and declared for us. And, which we cannot but particularly mention, in that army which was raised to be the instrument of slavery and popery, may (by the special providence of God) both officers and common soldiers have been touched with such a feeling sense of religion and honour, and of true affection for their native country, that they have already deserted the illegal service they were engaged in, and have come over to us, and have given us full assurance from the rest of the army, that they will certainly follow this example, as soon as with our army we shall approach near enough to receive them, without the hazard of being prevented and betrayed. To which end, and that we may the sooner execute this just and necessary design we are engaged in for the public safety and deliverance of these nations, we are resolved, with all possible diligence, to advance forward, that a free Parliament may be forthwith called, and such preliminaries adjusted with the King, and all things first settled upon such a foot according to law, as may give us and the whole nation just reason to believe the King is disposed to make such necessary condescensions on his part, as will give entire satisfaction and security to all, and make both King and people once more happy.
And that we may effect all this, in the way most agreeable to our desires, if it be possible without the effusion of any blood, except of those execrable criminals who have justly forfeited their lives for betraying the religion and subverting the laws of their native country, we do think fit to declare, that as we will offer no violence to any but in our own necessary defence, so we will not suffer any injury to be done to the person even of a papist, provided he be found in such place, and in such condition and circumstances as the laws require. So we are resolved and do declare that all papists, who shall be found in open arms, or with arms in their houses, or about their persons, or in any office or employment civil or military upon any pretence whatsoever, contrary to the known laws of the land, shall be treated by us and our forces not as soldiers and gentlemen, but as robbers, free-booters and banditti; they shall be incapable of quarter, and entirely delivered up to the discretion of our soldiers. And we do further declare, that all persons who shall be found any ways aiding and assisting to them, or shall march under their command, or shall join with or submit to them in the discharge or execution of their illegal commissions or authority, shall be looked upon as partakers of their crimes, enemies to the law, and to their country.
And whereas we are certainly informed that great numbers of armed papists have of late resorted to London and Westminster, and parts adjacent, where they remain, as we have reason to suspect, not so much for their own security, as out of a wicked and barbarous design to make some desperate attempt upon the said cities, and their inhabitants by fire, or a sudden massacre, or both, or else to be the more ready to join themselves to a body of French troops, designed, if it be possible, to land in England, procured of the French King, by the interest and power of the Jesuits in pursuance of the engagements, which at the instigation of that pestilent society, His Most Christian Majesty, with one of his neighbouring princes of the same communion, has entered into for the utter extirpation of the Protestant religion out of Europe. Though we hope we have taken such effectual care to prevent the one, and secure the other, that by God's assistance, we cannot doubt but we shall defeat all their wicked enterprises and designs.
We cannot however forbear out of the great and tender concern we have to preserve the people of england, and particularly those great and populous cities, from the cruel rage and bloody revenge of the papists, to require and expect from all the Lords-Lieutenants, Deputy-Lieutenants, and Justices of the Peace, Lord-Mayors, Mayors, Sheriffs, and other magistrates and officers civil and military, of all counties, cities and towns of England, especially of the County of Middlesex, and Cities of London and Westminster, and parts adjacent, that they do immediately disarm and secure, as by law they may and ought, within their respective counties, cities and jurisdictions, all papists whatsoever, as persons at all times, but now especially, most dangerous to the peace and safety of the government, that so not only all power of doing mischief may be taken from them, but that the laws, which are the greatest and best security, may resume their force, and be strictly executed.
And we do hereby likewise declare, that we will protect and defend all those who shall not be afraid to do their duty in obedience to these laws. And that for those magistrates and others, of what condition soever they be, who shall refuse to assist us, and in obedience to the laws to execute vigorously what we have required of them, and suffer themselves at this juncture to be cajoled or terrified out of their duty, we will esteem them the most criminal and infamous of all men, betrayers of their religion, the laws, and their native country, and shall not fail to treat them accordingly, resolving to expect and require at their hands the life of every single protestant that shall perish, and every house that shall be burnt or destroyed by their treachery and cowardice.
Given under our hand and seal, at our Head-Quarters at Sherburn Castle, the 28th day of November in the year 1688.
William Henry, Prince of Orange
By His Highness's special command,
This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (firstname.lastname@example.org) and was last updated October 26, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2003.