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Chapter I. effectual a Parliament as ever was held in England," bore

little resemblance to a legal summons of the commonalty,
as an estate of the realm.

After this period, the laws and charters of William and
his immediate successors constantly mention councils of
bishops, abbots, barons, and the chief persons of the kingdom,
but are silent as to the Commons. But in the 22nd year of
Henry II. (A.D. 1176), Benedict Abbas relates, that about
the feast of St. Paul, the king came to Northampton, and
there held a great council concerning the statutes of his
realm, in the presence of the bishops, earls, and barons of
his dominions, and with the advice of his knights and men.
This is the first chronicle which appears to include the
Commons in the national councils : but it would be too
vague to elucidate the inquiry, even if its authority were of
a higher order. And again, in the 15th of King John (A.D.
1213), a writ was directed to the sheriff of each county, " to
send four discreet knights to confer with us concerning the
affairs of our kingdom:" but it does not appear whether
they were elected by the county, or picked, at pleasure, by
the sheriff.
Two years afterwards, the great charter of King John Magna

Charta of defined the constitution of Parliament more clearly than any King John. earlier record.

" The main constitution of Parliament, as it now stands,” says Blackstone, “ was marked out so long ago as the seventeenth year of King John, A.D. 1215, in the great charter granted by that prince, wherein he promises to summon all archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons personally, and all other tenants in chief under the Crown by the sheriff and bailiffs, to meet at a certain place, with forty days' notice, to assess aids and scutages when necessary.”

Notwithstanding the distinctness of this promise, the growth of

representacharters of Henry III. omitted the engagement to summon tion. the tenants in chief by the sheriff and bailiffs ; and it is doubtful whether they were summoned or not, in the early

11 Hoveden, 343 ; 1 Hale, Hist. of the Common Law, 202; 2 Hallam, Middle Ages, 146.

? 2 Prynne, Register, 16; see also Palgrave, English Commonwealth, chap. ix.

part of that reign. But a writ of the 38th year (A.D. 1254) is Chapter I. extant, which involves the principles of representation more distinctly than any previous writ or charter. It requires the sheriff of each county" to cause to come before the king's council two good and discreet knights of his county, whom the men of the county shall have chosen for this purpose, in the stead of all and each of them, to consider, along with the knights of other counties, what aid they will grant the king."1 This, however, was for a particular occasion only; and to appear before the council is not to vote as an estate of the realm. Moreover, the practice of summoning citizens and others before the council, for particular purposes, continued long after the regular summons of members to Parliament from cities and boroughs had commenced. Nevertheless, representation of some kind then existed, and it is interesting to observe how early the people had a share in granting subsidies. Another writ, in 1261, directs the sheriffs to cause knights to repair, from each county, to the king at Windsor.3 At length, in the 49th Henry III. (A.D. 1265), writs were issued to the sheriffs by Simion de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, in the king's name, directing them to return two knights for each county, and two citizens or burgesses for every city and borough ; and from this time may be clearly dated the recognition of the Commons, as an estate of the realm in Parliament; 4 and there is evidence to prove that they were repeatedly assembled by Edward I., especially in the 11th, the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd years of his reign. Passing over less prominent records of the participation of the Commons in the government, the statute of 25th Edward I., “De tallagio non concedendo,” must not be overlooked. It was there declared that “no tallage or aid shall be taken or

1 2 Prynne, Register, 23.

? For instances in the reign of Edward III, and Richard II. see Rep. Dig. Peerage, App. I. 450. 457. 458. 569. 474. 741; Rym. Fæd. 186.

2 Prynne, Register, 27.

* See Lord Lyttleton, Hist. of Hen. II. ii. 276; iv. 79, et seq.; Stubbs, Const. Hist, ii. 93.

5 See Table of Writs Rep. Dig. Peerage, 489; Writs of Summons to Parliament, by Palgrave, 1827-1834; Parry, Parliaments and Councils of England, Intr. ; and 49-69; Ruffhead, Pref. to Statutes. The writ of the 22nd Edward I. is for knights only. Lord Colchester's Diary, iii. 27. 40. 47. 54-66,

Chapter I. levied by us or our heirs in our realm, without the good will

and assent of thearchbishops, bishops, earls, barons, knights,
burgesses, and other freemen of the land." This statute
acknowledges the right of the Commons to tax themselves ;
and a few years later a general power of legislation was also
recognized as inherent in them. A statute was passed in the
15th Edward II. (1322), which declares that “the matters
to be established for the estate of the king and of his heirs,
and for the estate of the realm and of the people, should be
treated, accorded, and established in Parliament, by the
king and by the assent of the prelates, earls, and barons,
and the commonalty of the realm, according as had been
before accustomed.1 It may be added, in conclusion, that
during the reign of Edward III. the Commons were regu-
larly mentioned in the enacting part of the statutes, having
been rarely mentioned there in previous reigns.?
So far the constituent parts of Parliament may be traced; Lords and

and the three estates of the realm originally sat together in originally
one chamber. When the lesser barons began to secede from Simone
personal attendance, as a body, and to send representatives,
they continued to sit with the greater barons as before :
but when they were joined by the citizens and burgesses,
who, by reason of their order, had no claim to sit with the
barons, it is natural that they should have consulted with
the other representatives, although they continued to sit
in the same chamber as the Lords. The ancient treatise,
“De modo tenendi Parliamentum," if of unquestioned autho-
rity, would be conclusive of the fact that the three estates
ordinarily sat together : but that when any difficult and
doubtful case of peace or war arose, each estate sat separately,
by direction of the king. But this work can claim no higher
antiquity than the reign of Richard II., and its authority is
only useful so far as it may be evidence of tradition, believed

t in one

11 Const. Hist. 4, n.; see also : 2 Hallam, Middle Ages, 180; Guizot, Histoire des origines du Gou- . Hakewel, 101 ; Cotton, Abridgment, vernement Représentatif en Europe; Pref. Sir Roger Twysden's Tract, Camden : See, however, Stubbs, Const. Soc. Pub. 1849; Stubbs, Const. Hist. Hist. iii. 430. chap. xiy-xyi.

and relied on at that period. Misled by its supposed authen- Chapter I. ticity, Sir Edward Coke and Elsynge entertained no doubt of the fact as there stated; and the former alleged that he had seen a record of the 30th Henry I. (1130), of the degrees and seats of the Lords and Commons as one body; and that the separation took place at the desire of the Commons.

The union of the two houses is sometimes deduced from the supposed absence of a Speaker of the Commons in early times: but Sir Edward Coke is in error when he infers that the Commons had no Speaker so late as the 28th Edward I. ; 2 for in the 44th Henry III., Peter de Montfort signed and sealed an answer of the Parliament to Pope Alexander after the Lords, “vice totius communitatis." 3 Nor can any decided opinion be formed from the fact of Speakers of the Commons not having been mentioned in earlier times; for if they consulted apart from the Lords, a Speaker would have been as necessary to preside over their deliberations, as when a more complete separation ensued. The first Speaker of the Commons to whom that title was expressly given was Sir T. Hungerford, in the 51st Edward III. (1376).4

It appears from several entries in the rolls of Parliament in the early part of the reign of Edward III., that after the cause of summons had been declared by the king to the three estates collectively, the prelates with the clergy consulted by themselves; the earls and barons by themselves; and the Commons, and sometimes even the citizens and burgesses,

| 13 Howell, St. Trials, 1130. of the shire had leave to depart, and 2 4 Inst. 2.

writs for their wages and expenses 3 Elsynge, 155; Hakewel, 200. were made out for them by the chan.

* 2 Rot. Parl. 374; 2 Hatsell, 212, cellor's order: but he commanded the n.; 2 Hallam, Middle Ages, 190. citizens and burgesses to stay, who, In 1377 Sir Peter de la Mare was being again assembled before the chosen Speaker, and is said in the prince, prelates, and lords, granted Parliamentary History to be the first for the safe conveying their ships on record. 1 Parl. Hist. 339. 349; 2 and goods 2s, on every tun of wine Hatsell, 212.

imported or exported out of the In the 46th Edward III., after the kingdom, and 6d. in the pound on Parliament had granted supplies, and all their goods and merchandise for the petitions of the Commons had one year,--2 Rot. Parl. 310. been read and answered, the knights

Chapter I. by themselves; and that they all delivered their joint

answer tɔ the king.1

The inquiry, however, is of little moment, for whether the Commons sat with the Lords in a distinct part of the same chamber, or in separate houses as at present, it can scarcely be contended that, at any time after the admission of the citizens and burgesses, the Commons intermixed with the Lords, in their votes, as one assembly. Their chief business was the voting of subsidies, and the bishops granted one subsidy, the lords temporal another, and the Commons again a separate subsidy for themselves. The Commons could not have had a voice in the grants of the other estates; and although the authority of their name was used in the sanction of Acts of Parliament, they ordinarily appeared as petitioners. In that character it is not conceivable that they could have voted with the Lords; and it is well known that down to the reign of Henry VI., no laws were actually written and enacted until the end of the Parliament.

Various dates have been assigned for the formal separa- When sepa. tion of the two houses, some as early as the 49th Henry III., 4 and others so late as the 17th Edward III. : 8 but as it is admitted that they often sat apart for deliberation, particular instances in which they met in different places will not determine whether their separation, at those times, was temporary or permanent. When the Commons deliberated apart, they sat in the chapter-house of the abbot of Westminster; and they continued their sittings in that place, after their final separation. After the Restoration the title of Member of Parliament came to be the designation of a member of the House of Commons.


Rot. Parl, 5 & 6 Edw. III. ; 4 Inst. 2; Elsynge, 102.

? Per Lord Ellenborough, in Burdett v. Abbot.

3 Cart. Hist. 451.

- Elsynge, 104 ; 1 Parl. Hist. 91; 2 Rot. Parl. 289. 351. On the restoration of the Palace of West

minster after the fire, 16th Oct. 1834,
the Chambers allotted to the Houses
of Parliament were first used by the
Lords, 13th April, 1847: by the
Commons, 30th May, 1850, 105 C. J.

51 Gardiner's Commonwealth and
Protectorate, 296, n. 2.

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