A SPEECH OF VVilliam Thomas, Esquire. Ianuary, 1641.

Concerning the right of Bishops sitting and voting in Par­liament: wherein hee humbly delivereth his opinion, that their sitting and voting there, is not onely inconvenient, and un­lawfull, but that it is not necessary for the making up of free and full Parliaments; nay, that they have no right thereto, for such reasons as he declareth.

Parliaments and Statutes therein made being of force, and no way nulls, notwithstanding their absence, whether volun­tary or inforced; and that they have not right to their temporalties, whereby they challenge their right to sit and vote in the House of Lords, Lay Peeres:

And therefore under correction he doth thinke that the se­verall Petitions of the City of London and others, as unto that, were fairly and justly offered:

And as they ought of due right to be admitted and recei­ved, so to be speedily debated, and voted, as he humbly conceiveth.

Printed at London by Th. Harper. 1641.

A SPEECH OF VVilliam Thomas, Esquire.

I Have lately declared my opinion herein in part as to the inconve­nience: I have also expressed that I was of the same minde as to the unlawfulnesse of the sit­ting of Bishops in the house of Lords, which I did but briefly touch, therefore desire I may a little further enlarge my selfe, there being a necessity thereof, (as shall ap­peare) for that in the delivery of that which I am now to speake of, it cannot bee avoided. I say now that I doe likewise conceive that they have no right to sit there, and in my render and proofe hereof I will bee as briefe as I may, or the matter permit, avoyding re­petition [Page 2] of any thing formerly spoken: for I will not Actum agere, or Cramben bis coctam ponere; it hath al­wayes beene ill relished, and cannot at this time but be most distastfull: for as with Iuvenal in his Satyres,

Nam quecunque sedens modo legerat haec eadem stans,
Proferet atque eadem cantabit versibus lisdem,
Occidit miseros Crambe repetita magistros.

Answerable to the Greeke Proverbe, [...].

But to the point of the right of Bishops to sit there, which I deny, alledging it to be a meere usurpation, and a possession unduly gained, and wrongfully held, yet such as received interruption: and as King Iames in his premonition speaketh of the Bishop of Rome and his usurped authority, so may I of their sitting in Parliament: It is not enough (saith he) to say as Par­sons doth in his answer to the Lord Cooke, that farre more Kings of this Country have given many more examples of acknowledging or not resisting, some perhaps lacking the occasion, and some the ability of resisting; for even by the Civill Law in the case of a violent intrusion and long wrongfull possession, it is enough if it bee proved that there hath beene made lawfull interruption upon convenient occasion.

That there hath beene interruption, plainly appea­reth, for that divers Lawes have beene made in their absence, and yet remaine in force, as wee may see in Iewel, fol. 644. Fox Monuments, 421. Lamberts [Page 3] Perambulation of Kent pag. 221. and others, declaring severall Parliaments to be held excluso Clero, the Cler­gy wholly exempted and left out, as in Ed. 1. Ed. 2. Ed. 3. and other Kings reignes. Nay, they came not into the house many years after the beginning of Par­liaments, the first time they were there present being in the reign of Henry the second, as Mathew Paris 185. so that they were not in the reigne of Henry the first, or King Stephen. Nor when they came to bee mem­bers, if such I may call them, or that they had votes, were they to vote in all things, as the twelve Bishops have passed verdict in their petitionary, if I may not rather call it proditory Protestation, which some of them have wisely retracted; in regard whereof, and their former worthy endeavours and expressions in defence of Protestant Religion, I should be most rea­dy to intreat for. But as we cannot deny, but must thankfully acknowledge that the services formerly done by them, were truly honourable, and worthy great reward, but not worthy to countervaile with a following wickednesse. Reward is proper to well doing, punishment to evill doing, which must not be confounded, no more then good and evill are to bee mingled, therefore hath beene determined in all wis­domes, that no man because hee hath done well be­fore, should have his present evill spared, but rather so much the more punished, as having shewed hee knew how to be good, would (against his knowledge) bee naught. The fact then nakedly without passion or partiality viewed, without question they are culpable. And what Seneca saith of Alexander killing Calisthe­nes, so may I of the Bishops, Hoc est Alexand, crimen, [Page 4] &c. This is the eternall crime of Alexander, which no vertue nor felicity of his in war shall ever bee able to redeem; for as often as any man shall say he slew many thousand Persians, it shall be replied he did so, and he slew Calisthenes, when it shall be said he wan all as farre as the very Ocean, thereon he adventured with unusuall Navies, and extended his empire from a corner of Thrace, to the utmost bounds of the Ori­ent: It shall be said withall but he killed Calisthenes let him have outgone all the ancient examples o: Captaines and Kings, none of all his acts make so much to his glory, as Calisthenes to his reproach. So after the enumeration of their several demerits from the Weale-publicke, it will be answered, Vulner ave­runt Parliamentum.

I reade in Apollodorus de origine Deorum, that when Dionysius had cast Licurgus into a fury or frenzy, he in this distemper taking a hatchet in his hand whilst he had thought hee had smitten downe the branch of a vine, with the same hand and hat­chet slew his owne son. So I feare these Prelates of late have given to their birth and being a deep wound if not mortall, by offering to cut downe a branch, a maine branch, priviledge of Parliaments: Sir Walter Rauleigh in his Preface to his History of the World, speaking of some worldly politicke Princes of this and other Kingdomes, concludeth that they did bring those things to passe for their enemies, and seen an effect so directly contrary to all their owne counsells, as the one could never have hoped for themselves, and the other never have succeeded, if no such op­position had ever beene, God hath said it and perfor­med [Page 5] it ever, Perdam sapientiam sapientum, I will de­stroy the wisdome of the wise, Quos vult Deus per de­re hos dementat: the application is easily made, shall I goe a little further in his expression: To hold the time we have, saith he, wee hold all things lawfull, and either we hope to hold them for ever, or at least we hope that there is nothing after them to be hoped for. But humbly craving pardon for this digression, I proceed forward; and will returne where I left. I say they were not to vote in all things; for by Law they were to avoid the place when the matter came to losse of life or limbe, 10. Edw. 4. but as I said before, whole Parliaments have beene held without their presence or votes, which God forbid should be nulls.

But to returne to my first purpose, to declare that they have no right to fit there, I conceive it will not be denied by any: And therefore I do take it as granted, and so need not labour much therein, that their such sitting is by reason and by right of their temporali­ties, or to speake more properly because of their pos­sessing the same occasioning it, for as by their Ecclesi­asticall function, they have the title Right Reverend, so by their Temporalities they are stiled Right Ho­nourable, as we finde it in the bookes of Heralds, and thereby become they Peers of Parliament, and sit with the lay Lords as wee finde in Kelleway 184. that the Justices say, that our Soveraigne the King may well hold his Parliament by himselfe, his Lords Temporall and Commons, without his Spirituall Lords, neither have they any place in Parliament by reason of their Spiritualty, but by reason of their tem­porall [Page 6] possessions; therefore it is not such an indubi­tate right as is alledged, the like whereto we finde in the Spirituall Peers of France; the three Archbi­shops of Rhems, Langres, and Laon were Dukes; the three Archbishops of Beavoies, Chalon and Noyon, Earles of the same places, & thereby Princes & Peers so made by Charles the great, as Cassaneus; likewise every Bishop of England hath a Barony, Cook Com. fol. 70. Sect. 137. and Mr. Selden Title of Honour, fol. 699. and fol. 702. so that they have not, nor doe I conceive that they doe challenge their temporalities due to them, Iure Divino: for as an ancient Father an­swereth such of them as say, Quid mihi & Regi, quid tibi ergo & possessioni per jura Regis possides possessiones, whereto agreeth that memorable speech of King Ed. the third in his Proclamation against that insolent Prelate Iohn Stratford, Archbishop of Canterbury whom hee most favoured, and trusted upon some complaints against him, Cum ipse & alli Prelati reg­ni, qui de nobis ecclesiarum suarum temporalia recipiunt ex debito fidelitatis juratae fidem, honorem & Reverenti­am debeant exhibere solus ipse pro fide, perfidiam, pro honore contumeliam, & contemptum, pro reverentia red­dere non veretur, unde etsi paratissimi & semper fueri­mus patres spirituales ut convenit, revereri, corum tamen offensas quos in nostri & regni nostri periculum redun­dare conspicimus non debemus conniventibus oculus pre­terire, so that it seemeth at most to be but Iure huma­no, and not Iure divino, as some do urge and presse it. For as I reade in Sleyden, speaking of the contention for primacy betwixt Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, and especially with Constantinople, the ruine of al which [Page 7] Rome at last effected. The Bishops of Rome, saith he, amplified with abilities, prevailed, and in the pos­session of the Church, would erect to themselves a Towre, which whether reared by the hands of men, or favour of Princes, now carries the name, as though it were founded by power divine.

Now some will retort upon me that therein I con­fesse they hold it though not Iure divino, yet Iure hu­mano, and so de Iure, I am not yet of that minde, but may when I heare reason to convince, with Saint Au­gustine, Errare possum, hereticus esse nolo. I grant that these temporall Lordships, Lay meanes, and revenues, are commonly called the possession of the Church; but I thinke as unproperly so termed, as unjustly by them held and detained from their right owners: for I thinke I may be bold to say, that the Bishops never had property therein, or right thereto, the same being never intended for them, or given to them, but they were onely made stewards and dispencers of these bona sacra, to dispose and distribute them as was dire­cted by the pious doners, to the poore, and other cha­titable uses, as I will make appeare by faire verdicts and testimonies sans exceptions.

The Bishops shall have for their Jury, Bishops, and those not twelve, but twice twelve hundred, and those assembled in severall Councels, twelve hundred yeares agoe, or thereabouts, the latest. And when I passe from those primitive times, by other suf­ficient Enquests and Verdicts to make up a dozen of Juries, that these temporall and lay possessions were not so annexed to the Church, but that they might & were severed and aliened away, and that by the ve­ry [Page 8] Canons of the Church, and Lawes Ecclesiasticall, as will appeare to any that will peruse the same. And wee may see the same not denyed by the Church of England, no not in the time of Popery. And also that it is altogether unlawfull for them to intermedle in temporall affaires, or to sit as Judges, and to vote in Courts of Judicature. When thus it shall appeare to be neither Iure divino, no part of Spirituall function, nor Iure humano, themselves not being of the first foundation, not entring into Parliaments with the lay Lords, but comming in and sitting there, either by intrusion, or of curtesie: the first in the time of su­perstition, the later since Reformation, permitted to sit there rather for their opinions and advice in points of Religion, as Judges doe of Law, but not to give votes concerning spirituall or temporall af­faires: and this their entrance being some halfe a hundred yeares after the beginning of Parliaments: Then if neither Iure divino, nor Iure humano, I under­stand not quo jure, unlesse it be Iure Luciferiano, whose ambition will challenge a seat that God hath not ap­pointed. It is said that where a Snake may creepe in with the head, it will draw with it the whole body: so when the head, the proud Prelacy of Rome, had usurped and entred into temporall government, it drew with it the tayle inferiour Bishops to trample upon Regall and Civill power. Thus corrupt and proud Prelacy, like a Serpent, hath a sting as well in the tayle as in the head: and this viperous brood hath gnawed and rent the very howels of the mother Church. For as a Reverend Doctour, and worthy Divine hath delivered; When once, saith he, the [Page 9] Spirituall authority (which ought to bee subordinate to the Temporall) began to interpose it selfe in Tem­porall affaires, and within a while after to oppose it selfe against the Temporall power, it made a ready way to the destruction of both. But let me not bee too far misunderstood, as if I should deliver, That Bishops neither are nor can be good; I doe not judge all the present bad, nor am I diffident but that (as very many have beene heretofore) wee may also have ma­ny very good hereafter; but Bishops either Papall or hypocriticall, I utterly disallow, or at least wise dis­like. Now if Popish Bishops or their favourers will censure me for over bold saucinesse, to use this free­dome of speech, which perhaps they will terme not only a harsh and malicious render, but an undeserved tax, and a most unjust charge, I will be further bold to tell them, that their owne fellow Bishops and such as understood them better, have left recorded of them such things as I should be very unwilling to be uttered by my tongue, or to passe my pen: I will in­stance in some few of many that I might recite; first Bellarmine, Doth not he in his Chronologie say, that the Bishops of Rome did degenerate from the piety of their Auncestors? And speaking of Hildebrand, saith, That he usurped power to depose Princes, for which all honest and good men detest. And speak­ing of his owne Lord and Master Sixtus the 5. Sine poenitentia vixit, & sine poenitentia moritur, proculdu­bio in infernam descendit. And after: Quantum ca­pio, quantum sapso, quantum intelligo in infernum de­soendu. And doth not Machiaversay as much of his Master: doth not Baronius speaking of Landus, Iohn [Page 10] the tenth, and others possessing the See of Rome, a­bout anno 912. deliver this testimony of those Bi­shops, Qua tunc facies Ecclesia Romana, &c. What was then the face of the Church of Rome? How fil­thy, when most potent and most filthy whores ru­led all in Rome, at whose appointment Sees were changed, Bishoprickes translated, and that which is most horrible, and not to bee spoken, their lo­vers (false Popes) were thrust up into Peters chaire, who were not fit to bee written in the Catalogue of Bishops, but for the summing or computation of time. Doeth not Gerochus Bishop of Richenberg say of those two firebrands of hell, Octavianus, alias Victor, and Alexander the third his competitor, that they were Antichristians, &c. Nay doth not Bi­shop Theodoricke à Niem, the Popes Secretary, con­clude the Bishops of Rome to bee Divels incarnate. I agree, saith hee, to what the Canonists dispute, that Popes are neither Angels, nor men, but Divells incarnate.

Saint Bernard, and many others, speake little lesse of some Bishops. I am willing to beleeve that our Bishops be no such as those formerly spoken of, yet I thinke that they might bee well spared in the House of Lords, where they have weaved Spiders webs, and hatched Cocatrice egges; and therefore, under correction, deliver my opinion; Their roome it bet­ter than their company.

Now to draw to a conclusion of this Preamble, and to proceed to the verdicts of the Juries formerly offered, whereof the first is Saint Augustine, and his fellow Bishops.

[Page 11]But these Jurors being so many, desire that (being withdrawne) they may have some short time to con­sider of their inquisition, and returne, and they will not stay long before they bring their joynt agreeing Verdicts.


  • 1 Ancient Fathers.
  • 2 Foragine Bishops.
  • 3 Foraigne Doctors, and Authentique Writers.
  • 4 English Bishops.
  • 5 English Divines.
  • 6 Popes and Cardinals.
  • 7 Generall Councels.
  • 8 Church Canons, and Ecclesiasticall Constitutions.
  • 9 Petitions of Lords and Commons in severall Par­liaments.
  • 10 The Common Lawes and Statutes of this Realm.
  • 11 The Edicts of Emperours and Kings.
  • 12 Angels, Prophets, and Apostles.


  • St. Augustine.
  • St. Ambrose.
  • St. Hierome.
  • St. Origen.
  • St. Tertullian.
  • St. Gregory Nazianzen.
  • St. Chrysostome.
  • St. Basil.
  • St. Bernard.
  • St. John the Alminer.
  • St. Zeno.
  • St. Spridian.


  • Hincmar Archbishop of Rhemes.
  • Waltram Bishop of Naumberge.
  • Ivo Bishop of Carnotum.
  • Bishop Theodericke à Niem.
  • John Calvin the Divine.
  • William de Occham.
  • Bucer.
  • Nicholaus de Clemangiis.
  • Petrus Damianus.
  • Johannes de Parisiis.
  • Aventinus.
  • Franciscus à Victoria.
  • Hildebert de Turim.

FORRAIGNE DOCTORS, AND Authentique VVriters.

  • Albertus Magnus.
  • Albertus Pighius.
  • Thomas Waldensis.
  • Guntherus Ligurianus.
  • Cornelius Jansenius.
  • Dureus a Jesuite.
  • Duarenus.
  • George Hiemburge.
  • Jacobus Almaine.
  • Johannes Maior.
  • Marfilius Patavinus.
  • Antonius Rosselus.
  • Potho.


  • St. Aidan.
  • St. Anselme.
  • St. Thomas Becket.
  • B. Thomas Arundell.
  • B. Matthew Parker.
  • B. Hooper.
  • B. Hugh Latimer.
  • B. John Elmer.
  • B. Thomas Bilson.
  • B. John Bridges.
  • B. Alley.
  • B. Gardener.
  • B. Bonner.
  • B. John Jewell.


  • Petrus Blecensis de Bath.
  • John Wicliffe.
  • William Swinderley.
  • William Fish.
  • William Tindall.
  • Doctor Barnes.
  • John Freth.
  • Thomas Becon.
  • Robert Parsons.
  • George Blackwell.
  • Nicholas Sanders.
  • Fox in his Acts and Monuments.


  • P. Gregorius.
  • P. Damasus.
  • P. Nicholas.
  • P. Celestine.
  • P. Adrianus. 4.
  • P. Celestine.
  • P. Paulus.
    • Ottobanus Legat.
  • Ca. Cusanus.
  • Petrus de Aliaco Cardinall of Cameracum.
  • Ca. Baronius.
  • Ca. Bellarminus.

GENERALL Councels.

  • C. Antioch.
  • C. Calcedon.
  • C. Carthage 3.
  • C. Carthage 4.
  • C. Carthage 6.
  • C. Constance.
  • C. Macrense.
  • C. Reginoburg.
  • C. Rhemes.
  • C. Laodum.
  • C. Tours.
  • C. Trent.

CHVRCH CANONS AND Constitutions.

  • Gratian.
  • Linwood.
  • Ivo Carnotensis.
  • Johannes Loughconcius.
  • Hostiensis.
  • Summa Angelica.
  • Gregory.
  • Silverius.
  • Paulus.
  • Ottobon London 1268.
  • London 1537.
  • Card. Poole London 1556.

Petitions Of Lords and Commons in severall Parliaments in the Reignes of

  • Henry 3.
  • Edward 3.
  • Richard 2.
  • Henry 5.
  • Henry 8.
  • Charles 1.

The rest are made up by this present Parliament.

The Common Lawes and Statutes of this Realme.

Common Law.
  • Regist. pars 1. f. 187. Quia non est consonū.
  • Kelway 184. The Iustices say, &c.
  • Ed. 1. Excluso Clero.
  • 14. Ed. 2. Excluso Clero.
  • 38. Ed. 3. Excluso Clero.
  • 11. Rich. 2. Excluso Clero.
  • 10. Ed. 4. Excluso Clero.
  • 14. Hen. 8. Excluso Clero.
  • 27. H. 8.
  • 34. H. 8.
  • 35. H. 8.
  • 3. E. 6.
  • 6. E. 6.
  • 2. Mary.
  • 8. Eliz.

The Edicts and Proclamations of Emperours and Kings.

  • E. Theodosius.
  • E. Honorius.
  • E. Justinian.
  • E. Hen. 4.
  • K. Bohemia.
  • K. Kich. 1.
  • K. Henry 3.
  • K. Edw. 1.
  • K. Edw. 2.
  • K. Edw. 3.
  • K. Henry 8.
  • K. Edw. 6.

Angels, Prophets, and Apostles, and sacred Writers.

  • Moses.
  • Josua.
  • Samuel.
  • Ezekiel.
  • Hosea.
  • Haggai.
  • Matthew.
  • Marke.
  • Luke.
  • John.
  • Peter.
  • Paul.

[Page 25]Angels, (as Bishop Iewel out of Parisiensis, Polycro­nicon and others,) did pronounce woes to the Church, for that by the donation of Lordships and Possessions by Constantine to the Church of Rome, poison was powred thereon.

O let this venome Lordships and Temporalities bee taken away, and removed from Episcopacy, for it hath well neere poisoned and destroyed it: Now I desire to offer two or three words in my owne behalfe: Am I become an enemy to Episcopacy, because I speake the truth? Doe I not rather declare my selfe a wel­wisher, if not a firme friend to Episcopacy, desiring onely the cure and preservation thereof? My voice is not like to that of Edom in the day of Jerusalem, Downe with it, downe with it even to the ground, But the voice of Iudah at the reedifying of the Lords House, Grace, Grace, I meane really spirituall, not Lordly titular Grace, I doe not say destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, but rather destroy it not, for there is a blessing in it, the fruit is good for meat, and the leaves for medicine, I am not for eradicating or demolishing, but my wish is and it ever shall be my endeavour to repaire the breaches of Sion, and renew the beauty of the Sanctuary, I doe not meane it beau­tified with Images and pictures, paintings & pinacles, for quo nudior co venustior. In my opinion & conceive­ment, I should expresse a cruell pitty to my dearest darling being diseased or desperately sicke, if I should forbeare in my selfe, or hinder in others the curing of what I so deerly affected and professed so to doe, be­cause I heare it cry out, or perceive impatiency in him to endure the suffering of the cure. God forbid I [Page 26] should be deemed an enemy to the Church for wish­ing and advising it with Adulterous Israel, Hosea 2.7. to returne to her first husband, for then was it better with her then now.

Mild Lenitives are not alwaies to be applied, but sometimes sharp corrosives, there must be as wel wine to search, as oile to supple, there is a crudelitas parcens, as a misericordia puniens, (saith Saint Augustine) now some will tearme me though not harmefull in regard of disability, yet in respect of will to hurt a hot adver­sary, yet others that perhaps have not so ill an opinion of me, will censure me likewise to bee but a cold friend, and say with Erasmus, Vno spiritu efflas calidum, & frigidum, or with Seneca, de beneficiis call it panem lapidosum, which Plautus delivereth in like words,

—Manus altera panem,
Altera fert lapidem.—

As if I did claw the head with the one hand, and smite the cheeke with the other, but passing by this, me thinkes I heare some tell mee with Cicero lib. 1. Tuskulan, pugnantia te loqui non vides, ubi est acumen tuum, you delivered in another Speech that the Bi­shops entred members of the House of Lords at the first Parliament, and continued there till this last; thereto I answer the scope, drift or end of that delive­ry was to declare their demeanor and actions in Parli­ament, not the right of sitting or voting, and I onely as I remember said that it was not denied, but though it should be granted, was most inconvenient and hurtfull many such and other objections and carpings I shall [Page 27] at leasure think of, and yeeld answer unto.

And whereas I have made a vaineglorious flourish (as it will bee termed) by offering so many Juries and Testimonies, I conceive it will bee judged an offer rather ad specimen then ad vulnus, as Cicero de Oratore: like that of Cyrus King of Persia (as Iulius Frontinus recordeth) besieging the City of Sardis, who did put upon long poles the images of men, arming them like Persian souldi­ers to terrifie Cresus and the City of Sardis; or else my arguments and testimonies shall have an ironicall reply, in the words of Tertullian, Si non possunt valere, quia magna non sunt valebunt forsan quia multa sunt; well granting some of these to bee but Milites levis Armaturae, (as I conceive they will not prove to be) yet undoubtedly some of the rest will charge with a sharper assault.

Then to draw to a full conclusion, let Papall Episco­palians censure my selfe and arguments as they please, it shall no way move me, I shall still possesse my soul in patience, though they account mee but a Phylotus Cous, who (as mentioneth Athenaeus) was of so light and slender a body that he had weight of lead tied to his heeles, left by a blast of winde hee should have beene blowne away, and my arguments or testimonies to be clouds without water, titles without evidences like an Apothecaries boxes that have goodly and faire names without, but have not a dramme of any thing good within, I say it little nay nothing troubleth or moveth me to heare some say that my Axe hath no edge, or others that the same is but borrowed, or that [Page 28] some others, no lesse maliciously then wrongfully charge and taxe me with hypocrisie and vaineglory, affirming most unjustly of me, that which Ireneus did most justly of some Hereticks of his time, to be elatum mihi placentem Hypocritam Quaestus gratiae, & inanis gloriae operantem.

But with Seneca, Conscientia satisfaciamus: nihil in famam laboremus sequatur vel mala dum bene merearis. Let us satisfie our consciences, and not trouble our selves with fame: be it never so ill, it is to bee despi­sed, so we deserve well. And as he elsewhere: Lau­dari à bonis timeo, & amari à malis detestor.


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