VIII. The Officers and Servants of the House

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

The Speaker

The most senior of the Commons’ officers was its Speaker. Seated in a raised chair under the royal coat of arms at the east end of St. Stephen’s Chapel, the Speaker presided over the House’s daily business. Unlike the House’s other two chief officers, the clerk and the serjeant-at-arms, the Speaker was chosen from among the Members of the Commons, and for that reason his office automatically ended when Parliament was dissolved.

Although the Speaker was an elected official, his appointment was too important to be left to chance, as it was through him that the Crown expected to control the Commons’ agenda.1 Before each Parliament the monarch or his chief ministers decided who should serve. The choice was made at around the time the writs of election were issued, giving the selected candidate sufficient time to write his acceptance speech and submit it for royal approval.2 To ensure that the Crown’s choice was confirmed, the subsequent election was carefully stage-managed. At the start of the Parliament the leading privy councillor in the House would nominate the king’s candidate while at the same time appearing to offer the Commons a free choice. In March 1604, for example, Secretary Herbert announced that, while James ‘was graciously pleased’ that Members should choose a Speaker ‘with all liberty and freedom’, he himself ‘thought no man more fit for that place and service than Sir Edward Phelips’.3 Next, after the House had signified its agreement, the Speaker-designate, carefully seated in the middle of the front row so that he could easily be heard, rose to protest his insufficiency. After this display of false modesty, the man chosen would be led to the chair by the two principal councillors present. The new Speaker would then stand, remove his hat and deliver his prepared acceptance speech.4

Little attempt was made to conceal the fact that the Speaker was a Crown appointee. In her Golden Speech of 1601, Elizabeth openly referred to Speaker Croke as the man ‘whom we did constitute the mouth of the lower House’.5 Before the death of Elizabeth the fact that the Commons was denied a real choice seems not to have caused dissatisfaction.6 This is hardly surprising, as many Members owed their seats to elections whose outcomes had also been determined in advance. In 1604, however, some Members, perhaps anxious to demonstrate to the new king that the lower House was not merely a rubber stamp, balked at the Crown’s choice. After Secretary Herbert nominated Sir Edward Phelips there was a brief silence, after which ‘the names of others were muttered: as of Sir Francis Hastings, Sir Henry Neville, Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Edward Hoby, Sir Henry Montagu and others’. Eventually, though, ‘the more general voice’ settled on Phelips.7 In subsequent parliaments discontent at the Commons’ inability to exercise a real choice was more muted. When Sir Thomas Richardson made his disabling speech as Speaker in February 1621, Arthur Goodwin, sitting for Chipping Wycombe, reportedly proposed another. In 1624 Sir Thomas Crewe was elected unopposed, but as the House rose voices from the gallery called for Sir Edward Coke to be chosen instead.8

The king was guided in his choice of Speaker by his chief ministers. In December 1625 Heneage Finch acknowledged that he was bound to Buckingham for his appointment, ‘as I am much otherwise’.9 The selection of Richardson in 1621 was almost certainly attributable to the lord chancellor, Viscount St. Alban, the former Sir Francis Bacon, as St. Alban was not only charged with the task of preparing for the Parliament but also nominated Richardson for his seat at St. Albans.10 Only four of the seventeen Speakers between 1559 and 1629 were county Members, indicating that it mattered little to the king or his ministers if the Speaker sat as a mere burgess rather than as a knight of the shire.11 What was more important was that they were all lawyers. From 1566 most of the Speakers chosen were senior members of their profession, the exceptions being Robert Bell (1572) and Ranulphe Crewe (1614), both of whom were mere benchers at the time of their appointment.12 Crown lawyers were selected in nearly half of all cases. Three held office as solicitor general (Onslow 1566; Popham 1581; Coke 1593); three more were King’s (or Queen’s) Serjeant (Wray 1571; Phelips 1604; Thomas Crewe 1625); and two (Heneage Finch 1626 and Sir John Finch 1628) were members of the king’s legal team.

Though legal expertise seems to have been considered essential, previous parliamentary experience was merely preferred. The majority of Speakers between 1559 and 1629 had sat in two or more parliaments before their appointment, and a few were real veterans, like Sir Christopher Wray (1571) and Sir Edward Phelips (1604), who had sat in six and five respectively. Nevertheless, relatively inexperienced men sometimes occupied the Speaker’s chair. Ranulphe Crewe’s only parliamentary service before he occupied the Speakership in 1614 was as a borough Member in the short-lived Parliament of 1597-8 more than sixteen years earlier. His successor, Richardson, had no previous parliamentary experience at all, nor did Sir John Puckering, Speaker in 1584. The appointment of novices or men with limited Commons experience suggests that the Crown sometimes had difficulty in finding a suitable candidate. In 1614 the Crown almost abandoned the search for a lawyer and nearly bestowed the chair on Sir Thomas Lowe, a merchant with considerable parliamentary experience.13 Suitable lawyers were certainly thin on the ground that year: the solicitor general, Sir Henry Yelverton, had recent Commons experience but had performed badly during the impositions debates of 1610; Sir Francis Bacon, too, was out of the running because no attorney-general had ever served as Speaker and because it was unclear whether his office entitled him to sit in the Commons. The most obvious candidate for the Speakership that year was the King’s Serjeant, Sir Henry Montagu, who had sat in the four preceding parliaments. Although he was recorder of London, Montagu was not barred from serving, since John Croke had combined the Speakership with the recordership of London in 1601. Why James chose the inexperienced Crewe over the battle-hardened Montagu remains a mystery, but it seems likely that the influence of the 3rd earl of Pembroke proved decisive. Along with the 1st earl of Suffolk, Pembroke was one of the two chief architects of the Parliament, and was the man to whom Crewe almost certainly owed his seat at Saltash.14

A Speaker was not normally expected to seek re-election to the Commons after his term of office had ended. This convention developed after the Speakership of Sir Thomas Gargrave in 1559, and was observed by all of Gargrave’s pre-Civil War successors except Sir John Puckering and Sir Thomas Crewe, both of whom served two consecutive terms as Speaker, and Sir Edward Coke, who resumed his Commons’ career during the 1620s despite having occupied the chair in 1593. Ahead of the 1628 session Ranulphe Crewe was urged to return to the Commons, presumably in imitation of Coke. In the event he decided against doing so, not out of consideration for convention but because, once in the House, he would be called upon to embarrass the government by explaining the circumstances behind his recent removal as lord chief justice.15

Following his formal election, the Speaker, accompanied by his fellow Members, attended the king, before whom he would once again plead insufficiency. Once his objections had been brushed aside, the Speaker delivered a fulsome oration in praise of the king. This customarily ended in a series of four requests, concerning privilege from arrest for Members, their servants and goods; freedom of speech ‘tempered with duty’; access to the king by the Speaker ‘when the business of the House shall require it’; and permission for the House to punish its own Members.16 In 1604 the Speaker also sought the right of reply if any complained against him, plus royal sympathy if he was found wanting in the performance of his office.17 Successive speakers adhered to this formula, although in 1621 one Member grumbled that Richardson ‘made not the petition for liberty of speech as usual’.18

At the start of each day’s business, the Speaker read aloud a prayer. Unlike the clerk’s prayer which preceded it, the Speaker’s prayer was special as it was ‘fitly conceived for that time and purpose’.19 Once this was done, the House usually turned to read bills, each one of which was read first by the clerk and then handed to the Speaker, who stood up, took off his hat, and summarized the contents, either from memory or by reference to a breviate.20 In October 1610 Phelips was permitted to remain seated ‘in respect of an infirmity in his leg’.21 One of the Speaker’s most important responsibilities was to ensure that proper procedure was followed. During debate, he was expected to interrupt anyone who veered off the point, made personal remarks or spoke impertinently. He also determined who took precedence whenever two Members rose to speak simultaneously.22 The Speaker’s responsibility for ensuring that the rules of debate were followed extended to counsel at the bar. When the House considered the Leicestershire election in February 1621, Richardson cut short one of the lawyers acting for Sir Thomas Beaumont after he ignored an instruction to avoid questioning the House’s right to examine returns.23

As well as presiding over debate, the Speaker also established the order of business, deciding which bills should be read first. However, his scope for determining the agenda was circumscribed, even in respect of legislation. While the Speaker normally decided which bills were to be handled he could not refuse if the House demanded that a particular measure be read.24 When, in December 1601, Adolphus Carey declared that it should be left to the Speaker to decide which of two bills should be read first as the House was not capable of doing so, he was roundly hissed at.25

The Speaker was meant to remain aloof during bill debates,26 but some occupants of the chair showed more impartiality than others. In 1581 Popham was reprehended ‘for speaking to such bills as he favoured without licence and preventing the opinion of others by hastening the question where he disliked’.27 In April 1604 Phelips attempted to influence the House over the bill to prevent secret outlawries, prompting the Commons to order that ‘if any doubt arise upon a bill, the Speaker is to explain, but not to sway the House with argument or dispute’. Phelips took no notice, and on 23 May 1604 he ‘putteth the House in mind of some inconveniences in the bill depending’ regarding purveyance. Two days later he announced that there were ‘thirty-two gross absurdities’ in the bill to legalize enclosures in the royal forest, ‘and wished that such as were not satisfied should first repair unto him before the bill were put to question’.28 In May 1610 Christopher Brooke demanded that the Speaker ‘may not persuade or dissuade in any bill without leave given him by the House’.29 Two months later Phelips was accused of partiality by Sir Edward Herbert.30

The Speaker was not explicitly prohibited from drafting or introducing legislation himself, but the impartiality expected of him meant that he normally did neither. The exception, naturally, was Phelips, who in May 1604 brought in a bill desired by James regarding hunting with guns, which he himself had almost certainly drafted.31 The Speaker was also expected to refrain from participating in debate while in the chair. Not even Phelips proved capable of breaking this rule, which had to be pointed out to the inexperienced Richardson at the beginning of the 1621 Parliament.32 Out of the chair, in grand committee, the Speaker was entitled to speak as a private Member, and during the 1620s he often did.33

One of the responsibilities of the Speaker was to appoint tellers whenever the House divided. 34 However on 20 May 1606 Speaker Phelips defended Sir Bernard Whetstone after the latter took it upon himself to serve as a teller, producing precedents to show that ‘one of the tellers was not appointed by the Speaker’.35 Before February 1606 it seems to have been usual to appoint just one teller from among the supporters of either side, but two was not unknown.36 Thereafter the number was fixed permanently at two per side, a result, perhaps, of a disagreement over the number of votes cast on 15 June 1604.37 However, four tellers were not necessarily better than two, for in May 1606 there was renewed arguing over numbers.38

During a division the Speaker was expected to remain impartial. However, in May 1610 Sir Henry Montagu argued that in the event of a tie the Speaker, being a Member himself and therefore sitting in a ‘double capacity’, might cast a deciding vote. Two months later, in a thinly attended House, Phelips took Montagu at his word.39 The precedent thereby established overturned a ruling of 1601 that had barred the Speaker from voting under any circumstances.40

Just as custom prevented the Speaker from drafting legislation, so too it normally stopped him from serving on committees. However, on 2 April 1604 ‘it was thought fit that Mr. Speaker should attend the committee for penning the reasons in Sir Francis Goodwin’s case’, and on 23 May 1604 Phelips was the first Member appointed to the committee for the bill to prevent unlawful hunting, a measure which, as we have seen, he had almost certainly drafted himself. During the 1606 session, Phelips was appointed to a committee connected with the bill for the better execution of the laws regarding purveyance (30 January 1606), and was required to attend the final meeting of the committee for the bill against popish recusants (26 May 1606).41 After 1610, however, the Speaker ceased to be named to committees, although as late as December 1621 Hakewill defended his right to be appointed. The only committee the Speaker was entitled to attend was that of the whole House, and sometimes he was excluded even from this.42

The Speaker could do little without the permission of his colleagues. At the beginning of each Parliament, it was the House that conferred upon him the authority to issue warrants to the clerk of the Crown requiring writs for by-elections.43 Warrants to summon witnesses were also issued by him only on the orders of the House.44 It was not, however, always possible for the Speaker to defer to his colleagues before taking action. In February 1607, shortly before the Commons reassembled after the Christmas break, Phelips, citing as his authority the ‘general warrant of the Commons House of Parliament’, ordered the Court of Wards to cease its proceedings against one of his servants.45

During debate a Speaker who wished to retain the goodwill of the House would gauge its mood and be guided by it. He would therefore not put the question until the House ‘conceive it timely’, as Hakewill observed, nor would he frame the question himself. A wise Speaker would instead announce ‘what he conceives the question ought to be, and in what words he intendeth to make it’, and if his colleagues ‘dislike that which is propounded’ he was to await their further direction. Once the wording was agreed, the Speaker would emphasize the will of the House by saying that ‘by your favour, I will put the question’.46 Whenever prisoners, witnesses, messengers or counsel appeared at the bar, the Speaker alone was entitled to address the chamber. The examination of the members of the council of war in March 1626, for instance, was carried out entirely by the Speaker, although the questions he put were framed by a committee established for that purpose.47

The Speaker’s freedom of action was limited because Members regarded him as their mouthpiece rather than their leader. Through him the Commons expressed its collective will, replying to messages sent by the Lords, communicating its thanks to the king, pronouncing punishment on those found guilty of contempt towards the House, or presenting the king with the subsidy bill.48 Some believed that he should only speak extempore on their behalf, whereas others thought that he might also deliver to the king written messages or petitions from the House. These differences surfaced in December 1621, when the House debated whether it was permissible to send the Speaker to the king with a petition. Hakewill and Sir Robert Phelips maintained that the Speaker had traditionally performed this function, whereas Sir Thomas Hoby claimed that he had ‘never heard any Speaker ever sent as a messenger to deliver any writing, but [only] a speech’. Hoby was supported by Sir Humphrey May, who argued, in effect, that the Speaker’s role was accurately defined by his title: ‘there is no precedent that the Speaker (who is the mouth of the House) should deliver a petition from the House; for that were to put the Speaker’s tongue into his hands’.49 Recent precedent certainly suggested that Hoby and May were correct. When, in November 1610, the Commons decided to break off negotiations over the Great Contract, the councillors in the House rather than the Speaker, who ‘is never sent upon any reading message’, conveyed the news to James.50 This prohibition against reading from a script was a recipe for mistakes. It may explain why, on the last day of the 1601 Parliament, Speaker Croke, presenting the queen with the subsidy bill, mistakenly doubled the number of subsidies and halved the number of fifteenths and tenths, an error which had to be hurriedly corrected.51 Only when the Speaker addressed the House was he permitted to read aloud.

Though the Commons always accepted without serious protest the Crown’s choice of Speaker, its Members considered him primarily their servant rather than the king’s. The latter, as the real author of the Speaker’s appointment, naturally saw matters differently and expected the Speaker to report to him or his ministers regularly, both for information and instruction. During the heated purveyance debates of February and March 1606, Phelips kept Salisbury closely informed of developments, and in one letter promised not to vary ‘from the matter whereunto I shall be prescribed’. He did not altogether forget that he was the House’s servant, as he tried to persuade James and Salisbury to moderate their anger towards the Commons over the purveyance bill, whose author, John Hare, he portrayed as an ‘inconsiderate firebrand’ with limited support in the House.52 Nevertheless, he was widely regarded as a creature of the king’s.53 In 1604 Tobie Matthew, sitting for York, complained to John Donne that ‘most days’ the Speaker succeeded in making himself ‘ridiculous’, and that his attempt to guide the House too closely was ‘a fault’.54

As well as communicating by letter, the Speaker often waited on the king in person, usually at the beginning of the day, when he would confer and receive instructions. These early morning meetings often delayed the start of business. On the morning of 5 April 1604, for example, Members were kept waiting from eight o’clock until ten while Phelips discussed with James the Commons’ refusal to confer with the judges over the Buckinghamshire election.55 Delaying the start of business was a frequently employed royal tactic, which served to remind Members where real power lay. However, sometimes the Speaker was genuinely in need of fresh instructions, particularly when he had lost control of events. During the height of the purveyance debates of 1606, Phelips was so unsure what to do after a majority came out in support of Hare’s bill that he pleaded illness the next morning in order to arrive late. Most Members saw through this lame excuse.56

After the Speaker had consulted the king, he would notify the House of the royal wishes. However, since they regarded the Speaker as primarily their mouthpiece rather than the king’s, many Members felt uneasy that he was required to act as a royal spokesman. Their disquiet increased in May 1610, when they discovered that a message ordering them not to consider the king’s right to levy impositions actually originated with the Council. Sir Herbert Croft declared that it had ‘grown into too much custom that the Speaker should bring any message from the king, but when he was sent by the House’, while Sir Edward Montagu announced that the lords of the Council were neither ‘mediators nor messengers’. The crisis lasted eight days, and was only resolved when James tacitly signalled that he would permit impositions to be debated after all.57

The Speaker was not expected to manage business for the king single-handed, but looked for guidance and support to the privy councillors in the House, who seated themselves near the chair. When Phelips was pressed to know whether the message requiring the House to abandon its plan to debate impositions was from James ‘or from some great person’, for instance, he turned to the government ministers present before replying that he had received it ‘from the body of the Council’.58 However, early seventeenth-century Speakers were often poorly supported, as the number of councillors with seats in the Commons tended to be small and their calibre was not always high.59

The knowledge that successive Speakers saw themselves primarily as royal officials rather than the servants of the House had the effect of eroding their authority. Treated with contempt by their parliamentary colleagues, their already limited powers increasingly became severely circumscribed. In February 1610, for instance, an attempt was made to prevent the Speaker from deciding the result of a debate without putting a distinct question first. Although the motion was not then adopted, an order to this effect was passed in April 1614.60 The most serious threat to the powers of the Speaker was the committee of the whole House, which first appeared in 1606 and met under the auspices of a chairman. Ostensibly developed to allow greater freedom of debate, these committees were soon being used to bypass the Speaker altogether, allowing the House to pursue its own agenda at the expense of the king.61

Although the committee of the whole House significantly reduced his power, the Speaker was not left entirely impotent. Bills could still not be read unless the Speaker was in the chair, nor could messages be delivered to the House. Furthermore committees, even those composed of all Members, had to report their deliberations to the House before any action could be taken on their resolutions. Consequently, the Speaker often resumed the chair immediately after a sitting of the grand committee. Should the Speaker not wish to attend the committee, or if he were required to be absent, he would sometimes be ordered to return after the committee had concluded its business. On 28 May 1621, for example, the House ordered Richardson ‘to be here at four’ when the grand committee was expected to have finished. On 6 July 1625, too, the House instructed ‘Mr. Speaker to be here at eight’ the next morning after a sitting of the grand committee.62 Occasionally the House was uncertain whether the Speaker would be needed after a meeting of the grand committee, in which case it was important that he should be at hand. On 3 April 1626 it was ordered that the Speaker should be ‘sent for, if cause so thought, from the grand committee’. Even if the Speaker were not needed, it was always possible that a message would arrive unexpectedly from the Lords, thereby requiring him to resume his chair.63 Thus the Commons continued to depend on its Speaker despite the emergence of the committee of the whole House.

The Speaker’s residual power meant that the king and his ministers continued to hold a trump card up their sleeves. By delaying the arrival of the Speaker, or causing him to be absent, the king could severely disrupt the business of the House. On the final day of the 1628 session, Charles played this card to great effect when he detained the Speaker at Whitehall for two hours, thereby preventing the Commons from passing a Remonstrance complaining that Tunnage and Poundage was being levied without parliamentary authority.64 In March 1607 Salisbury, anxious to take the heat out of the naturalization debates, encouraged the Speaker to prolong a genuine illness.65 Faced with an empty chair, a frustrated Nicholas Fuller announced that the House had the power to choose a new Speaker if it wished. Though this was technically correct, Sir George More undoubtedly spoke for the majority when he observed that it would be unprecedented to unseat the Speaker and that, besides, ‘the king must give leave, and must approve after choice’.66 Through the Speaker, the king still exercised the right to adjourn the Commons whenever he pleased. Though some Members protested that the Speaker could not leave the chair without their authority, this was a right that could ultimately be upheld only by force, as the events of 2 March 1629 clearly demonstrate.

Before 1790 no Speaker enjoyed the use of an official residence,67 but since all were lawyers, the majority had the use of chambers in their respective Inns of Court. Phelips was more fortunate, as he owned a house in Drury Lane, from where he addressed most of his warrants.68 Heneage Finch, who was translated to Serjeant’s Inn in 1623, also owned a London house, but it was situated at St. Bartholomew’s, which he regarded as being ‘too far from the Parliament House’. Consequently, when he learned that he was to be made Speaker, he hired a house in Cannon Row from Viscount Grandison.69

Despite lacking a permanent fixed residence, the Speaker was expected to provide hospitality to his fellow Members, even during an adjournment. When Sir Thomas Crompton suggested that the Speaker should be ‘enjoined to keep a table during this recess as he doth while the House sitteth’, Richardson replied that ‘he wondereth that any gentleman should move to have him ordered to keep it’, as anyone was welcome to come to his table at any time.70 In 1628 Sir John Finch, who attempted to avoid the speakership by pleading poverty, was provided with a dining chamber somewhere in the Palace of Westminster. Furnished with tapestries and carpets by the king’s Wardrobe, this room may have been the Speaker’s chamber referred to in the Journal on 12 April.71 Before then, facilities for the Speaker within the Palace were more modest. He was occasionally permitted to use the committee room situated above the Lobby as a withdrawing chamber and sometimes may have eaten his dinner there.72

The Speaker was supposed to suspend his legal practice while in office, even when the House stood adjourned.73 However, this convention was more honoured in the breach than in the observance. When Sir Richard Grosvenor moved in June 1621 that Richardson should abandon the law during the forthcoming recess ‘for more dignity of the House’, Hakewill correctly recalled that Speaker Phelips ‘did practise’.74 Each Speaker was also meant to receive £100 from the Crown for his services, regardless of how long the Parliament lasted.75 This money may not always have been forthcoming. In 1621 Richardson complained that he had received ‘no penny recompense for any my pains, charge and loss’.76 However, the Speaker had access to other sources of income, some of which may have proved more reliable. Until 1610 the City of London customarily paid a retainer to the Speaker. Before 1597 the sum given was £6 13s. 4d., or ten marks, but in 1597 the amount was increased to £10.77 In 1601 Speaker Croke was given £13 6s., but this further rise probably reflected the fact that Croke was London’s recorder, for in 1604 the City reverted to the level set in 1597.78 The long duration of the first Jacobean Parliament prompted the City to order payment of an additional £10 to Speaker Phelips at the beginning of 1610.79 Thereafter orders to pay the Speaker, which had always been entered in the minutes of the court of aldermen, largely ceased, suggesting either a change in record-keeping or that the City had decided not to reward the Speaker any longer. Indeed, only one further payment is recorded, and perhaps significantly, the recipient, Sir Thomas Crewe, was one of the City’s fee’d counsel. This payment differs in one important respect from earlier disbursements. Previously, the Speaker had been paid at the beginning of Parliament, but on 25 May 1624, at the end of a Parliament, payment of £10 was ordered ‘for the favours and respect showed unto this City’ by Crewe.80

As well as his official salary and the retainer paid by London, the Speaker was entitled to payment for every private bill brought before him. Prior to1587 a fee of £3 was normal, but thereafter the rate increased to £5.81 Payment did not guarantee that a bill would be read. In 1614 the Bakers’ Company paid the Speaker £5 for their bill and yet failed to obtain a first reading.82 Some lobbyists were more careful with their money, however, and declined to part with their cash until their bill had been introduced to the Commons. Five days after the bill to limit new buildings was given a first reading in March 1607, the corporation of London ordered the Speaker’s fees to be paid.83 A Speaker who took money for a bill which failed to secure even a first reading was not necessarily acting improperly, however, as he was invariably inundated with private legislation, not all of which could be fitted into a crowded timetable. Several lobbyists, aware of the competition, sought to improve their chances of gaining readings for their bills by paying more than the going rate. In 1607 the Carpenters’ Company gave the Speaker an additional £2 after their bill received its second reading, and in 1614 the Brewers’ Company paid Ranulphe Crewe a total of £9.84 In 1610 the citizens of Exeter threw money at the Speaker in the hope of securing preferential treatment. As well as giving him £10, they arranged for him to receive a hogshead of either Malaga wine or claret, ‘together with one baked salmon pie’, as a ‘token of their good will’.85 In 1566 Speaker Onslow received £10 from the Clothworkers’ Company ‘for his friendship for the preserving of our bill to be read’. The additional expenditure paid dividends, as the bill was enacted, whereupon the Company gave Onslow a swan worth 10s. as a further token of their thanks.86

Rewarding the Speaker after a bill was enacted or awaiting the Royal Assent seems to have been commonplace. When the Coopers’ Company learned that its bill had successfully passed through both Houses in 1597, it gave the Speaker four bottles of claret and a runlet of sack at a cost of 29s. 9d.87 Just occasionally, the Speaker gave (or was required to give) his services for free. In November 1621 the Commons ordered Richardson to waive payment for the bill to naturalize the daughters of Sir Horace Vere in recognition of Vere’s outstanding military service.88 In 1593 the Coopers’ Company, whose accounts are very full, failed to pay Speaker Coke for either of the bills they laid before the Commons, even though one reached the committee stage.89 Whether this indicated evasion or generosity on Coke’s part is unclear.

The Speaker was assisted by the clerk of the Commons, who often wrote letters for him and looked up precedents.90 However, the clerk had numerous responsibilities and could not perform all the Speaker’s secretarial duties himself. Consequently the Speaker retained several junior clerks. In February 1607 Phelips conferred protection on Nicholas Davy, ‘one of my clerks and nearest servants, a necessary and daily attendant’.91 The Speaker’s servants were occasionally rewarded directly by the House. Thus in July 1607 the Commons ordered £6 to be paid ‘to Mr. Speaker’s officers’ out of the Members’ collection.92 However, the Speaker’s clerks generally earned their living either from the Speaker himself or the lobbyists who flocked to Westminster. The most senior clerk customarily demanded 10s. from each lobbyist for every private bill presented to his master.93 He and his colleagues also earned a tidy amount from drafting breviates. Each bill submitted to the Speaker was supposed to be accompanied by a breviate summarizing its contents, but bill authors frequently neglected to provide these, allowing the Speaker’s clerks to step in, for which they charged a flat fee of 10s. per breviate.94 The clerks also exploited their proximity to the Speaker to supplement their income. In 1593 the Coopers’ Company paid one of them 11s. 6d. ‘to solicit Mr. Speaker in our suit’, and wined and dined another for the same purpose, while in 1614 the Brewers gave £2 16s. to ‘Mr. Crewe’s man’ for ‘furthering’ their bill.95 Other members of the Speaker’s staff attracted similar payments. In 1601 the Brewers gave 20s. to Mr. Speaker’s clerk’ and 12d. to ‘Mr. Speaker’s doorkeeper’.96 Twenty years later the Coopers gave 2s. 6d. to the Speaker’s ‘chamber doorkeeper’, 12d. to his ‘street doorkeeper’ and 5s. to his clerk.97 Members of the Commons, too, sometimes tipped the Speaker’s servants. On taking his seat at the beginning of the 1614 Parliament, Sir Richard Paulet gave 12d. to the Speaker’s porter.98

The clerk of the Commons and his servants

Described as the ‘usefullest man of the House’ by Sir James Bagg in 1628,99 the clerk of the Commons was appointed by the king and held office for life by virtue of a grant under the great seal. During the fourteenth century the clerk had been a Chancery official, and though this was no longer the case Chancery may still have felt that it had a proprietary claim over his office. When a newly appointed clerk was required to take possession of the Commons’ books and papers in 1611 he received the instruction from the lord chancellor.100

Three men occupied the clerkship between 1603 and 1629. Following the death of the long-serving Elizabethan clerk, Fulke Onslow, the office was bestowed upon Ralph Ewens, a servant of the master of the Posts, Sir John Stanhope. A Yorkshireman who had represented Beverley in the 1601 Parliament, Ewens was educated at Gray’s Inn, where he became an ancient in February 1604. From August 1603 he was also auditor to Anne of Denmark.101 Following his death in August 1611, Ewens was succeeded by William Pinches, an obscure minor official who perhaps owed his appointment to the lord privy seal, Henry Howard, earl of Northampton.102 Pinches died before he could perform the duties of his office, however, and was replaced in November 1612 by John Wright. Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Wright was a bencher of Grays’ Inn, which he entered in 1588. A gentleman by birth, his family was one of the oldest in the Essex liberty of Havering-atte-Bower, where he served as deputy coroner in 1603/4 and deputy steward from 1625 until his death in 1632.103 He also became recorder of Maldon in 1619.104 It is unclear whether it was he or his father, also named John, who served as deputy surveyor of Chapel Hainault Lodge in 1608 and clerk of the Peace for Essex in 1609/10.105 Described by his fellow Essex resident Sir Arthur Herrys as full of ‘godly zeal to religion’, Wright was a friend of the puritan patron Robert Rich, 2nd earl of Warwick, who seems to have written in support of Wright’s appointment to the recordership of Maldon.106 He was also on close terms with Warwick’s cousin and man of business, Sir Nathaniel Rich.107 During the later 1620s Wright’s association with the Rich family made him suspect in the eyes of Buckingham and his allies. Indeed, in 1628 Sir James Bagg observed that Wright, ‘of all men sithence my being of that House, hath done the worst service to His Majesty’.108 Wright’s political sympathies were made clear in November 1626 when, along with Warwick and John Pym, he visited Sir Francis Barrington, who had recently been imprisoned in the Marshalsea for refusing to serve as a commissioner for the Forced Loan.109

In his patent of appointment the clerk of the Commons was designated the under-clerk of the parliaments to distinguish him from the clerk of the Lords, whose formal title was clerk of the parliaments.110 To the outside world, however, the distinction between the two officers went largely unnoticed, as it was often the clerk of the Commons who was described as the clerk of the parliaments. In 1593 the Coopers’ Company referred to Fulke Onslow as ‘clerk of the Parliament House’. Four years later they made separate payments to ‘the clerk of the Parliament’ and ‘to Mr. Smith, clerk of the upper House’. In 1621 the Grocers’ Company termed John Wright ‘clerk of the Parliament’, and gave 20s. ‘to the clerk of the Parliament’s son’.111 Members of the Commons did little or nothing to correct this misunderstanding. On the contrary, they were at pains to elevate the standing of their clerk at the expense of his counterpart in the Lords. In November 1601 Sir Francis Hastings referred to the clerk of the Commons as ‘our clerk of the Parliament’, implying that there were two such officers, while in June 1621 Sir Edward Coke and Sir Nathaniel Rich went further, describing John Wright as ‘the Clerk of the Parliament’.112 In May 1628 the Commons replaced the phrase ‘clerk of the parliaments’ in the Vincent Low land bill with the words ‘clerk of the Lords House of Parliament’. On another occasion the Commons pointedly referred to the clerk of the Parliament as ‘the clerk of the Higher House’.113 The Lords naturally found these slights irritating, particularly as they believed that the Commons’ clerk, being under-clerk of the parliaments, was subordinate to their own officer. When, in October 1610, the clerk of the Commons issued an instruction to the clerk of the parliaments an irritated upper House responded by reminding the Commons that Ewens was ‘an under clerk unto the clerk of this House’.114

Although the clerk was a royal appointee, he did not, unlike the Speaker, report to the king or his ministers. He might, of course, be prevailed upon to supply the government with copies of particular documents, but even so tact was needed to avoid creating the impression that he was at the government’s beck and call. In August 1610 Ewens sent Lord Treasurer Salisbury a copy of the draft Great Contract after the latter sent him a request, which came not from Salisbury directly but from one of the joint keepers of the Tower records.115

Political considerations undoubtedly influenced the choice of clerk, but the appointments of Ewens and Wright suggest that it was also considered important that the successful candidate should have a sound knowledge of law. Certainly he needed a good grounding in French, and probably also in Latin: in April 1610 Ewens was required to translate a statute of 1353 from law French into English, while in 1621 Wright was ordered to read aloud a record of 1399 in French.116

Although the duties of the clerk were not formally set down, they formed the subject of a tract written in about 1611 by the veteran Member and procedural expert William Hakewill. Part of a wider treatise on the workings of the Commons, this document was never published in full and the original manuscript now appears to be lost.117

Despite the lack of a handbook, it is possible to reconstruct the duties of the clerk from a number of sources. The clerk sat bareheaded below the Speaker at a table ‘upon which he writeth and layeth his books’.118 There he noted resolutions and the progress of bills for inclusion in his Journal, which in 1515 had acquired statutory recognition as the official record of the Commons. The Journal began life in each new Parliament as a series of hastily scribbled notes. During the 1604 session, for example, Ewens kept seven notebooks, each of varying length, which collectively he termed ‘the Book of Notes’.119 These notes formed the basis of the final Journal, but before a fair version could be produced they were supplemented with additional material which, for one reason or another, had been omitted, such as the text of reports delivered to the House by committee chairmen. An insight into this drafting process is afforded by marginalia made by Ewens in the draft Journal on 26 March 1607. At one point Ewens reminded himself to ‘inquire for this report of Mr. Holt; for the Lords’ speeches specially and for the point of assurance’. Elsewhere he told himself to ‘remember to inquire’ after the notes made by Sir Henry Montagu.120 Once he had secured the additional material he needed, the clerk could begin to prepare a fair copy, interleaving redrafted material with loose documents as appropriate.121 The Journal was written on paper, even in its fair form, and consequently the pages soon became dog-eared and worn. Many saw this as unsatisfactory, and in February 1621 William Noye suggested that the final version be entered onto a parchment roll. His motion was approved, but Wright seems never to have acted on it.122

One of the chief duties of the clerk was to record the progress of each bill and the names of committee members as they were appointed. This was no easy task, as the assembled throng shouted out the names of Members to be appointed, so that, as Hakewill observed, the clerk wrote down only ‘such whose names (in that confusion) he can distinctly hear’.123 Under such circumstances it is not surprising that mistakes were sometimes made. Members could find themselves named two or three times to the same committee, or ascribed the wrong Christian name. Once, in 1628, Wright included a ‘Mr. Marsh’ in his list, even though there was no such Member.

Less easy to understand are gaps in the legislative record. In 1606 Ewens failed to note down either the first or second readings of the Muscovy Company bill, although he recorded the naming of additional members to the committee and the fact that the bill was eventually ordered to sleep.124 Four years later Ewens omitted from his Journal any mention of the first reading of the butter and cheese bill, a measure which successfully passed through all its Commons’ stages before being translated to the Lords.125 In June 1610 Dudley Carleton exchanged angry words with Ewens ‘for the false entering of an order’.126 Possibly Ewens eventually made good these and other deficiencies, but if he ever produced a fair version of his Journal it is now lost.127 Wright was, if anything, worse in this respect than Ewens: in 1621 he disregarded several bills completely.128 His note-taking skills have been condemned by the editors at the Yale Center for Parliamentary History as being ‘inferior to several of the diarists, even when recording only the official business of the House’. Unlike Ewens, whose hand is generally clear, Wright’s scribblings are ‘very poor and at times almost illegible’.129

The clerk was not meant to record speeches in case the king used his notes to punish Members who had spoken out of turn. However, neither Ewens nor Wright before 1624 heeded this restriction. Indeed, Wright took down more speeches in 1621 than anyone else, though the accuracy and completeness of his reporting often compares unfavourably with many of the diarists.130 Before 1621, the job of monitoring the contents of the Journal belonged to the committee for privileges, whose members sometimes had the record amended. Comparison of the 1604 ‘Book of Notes’ with the fairer version of proceedings for the same session, for example, suggests that Ewens was required by the committee to alter his Journal in such a way that individual speeches and their authors could not be distinguished. For instance, on 30 March 1604 Ewens recorded the names of each speaker in the debate on the Buckinghamshire election as well as what they said, whereas the later version of that day’s proceedings omits the names of the speakers entirely. Where the account had originally begun ‘Sir Robert Wingfield moveth touching the matter of difference between the king and the lower House’, it now opened with the words ‘Moved and urged by one touching the difference now on foot between the king and the House’.131

On the face of it, the intervention of the committee for privileges appeared to meet the needs of the House very satisfactorily. In the final version of the Journal the anonymity of each speaker was preserved while in the earlier draft the House got a formal record of its debates. However, there was an obvious flaw in this process: the king or his ministers might insist on seeing the Journal before a fair copy could be produced. This consideration should have led the House to check the clerk’s notes with great regularity, yet astonishingly it was not until 1610 that the privileges committee was ordered to examine Ewens’ notebooks, which had been kept since 1604.132

The Commons’ failure to keep a more watchful eye on the note-taking habits of its clerk had serious consequences in 1621, when Wright’s habit of recording not only the content of speeches but also their authors provided the government with valuable ammunition against troublesome Members. Immediately following the dissolution, before Wright could produce a fair copy of his Journal, William Mallory was told by a member of the Privy Council who interrogated him ‘that if I had been as careful to look to the clerk as I was to the Speaker many things had not been known that now comes [sic] to light’.133 Hakewill, too, found himself ‘charged with words out of the clerk’s book’,134 as indeed were others.

Wright was not entirely to blame for exposing Members to such censure. Unlike Ewens he had never been a Member of the House himself, and before 1621 the only Parliament in which he had served as clerk had been the short-lived assembly of 1614. Greater fault lay with the small committee for surveying the Journal which had been appointed soon after the Parliament commenced. Consisting of some of the most seasoned Parliament-men,135 its members were required to meet weekly and should therefore have had ample opportunity in which to correct the clerk. It was perhaps because the Commons realized that its own Journal committee was as much to blame as Wright himself this that no attempt was made to punish the clerk when a fresh Parliament met in 1624. Nevertheless, in order to avoid a repetition of the events which had occurred at the beginning of 1622, Mallory moved ‘that the clerk may enter no man’s name, and only the determination of the House’ in his Journal.136 Wright, however, did not modify his behaviour. Concern that he was continuing to take down speeches resurfaced in April 1628, during the debates preceding the formulation of the Petition of Right. Sir Edward Coke reminded his colleagues that the ‘clerk’s office is not to take our sayings but to take the orders of the House only’ in case the Journal should be used ‘against us’. The House concurred, and condemned ‘the clerk taking men’s speeches’.137 It was only then, as Sheila Lambert has observed, that the clerk’s habit of recording speeches was ‘abruptly abandoned’.138

Not all Members were keen to ensure that the clerk refrained from recording speeches. During the 1628 debates on the subject, Wright’s friend Sir Nathaniel Rich argued that the House needed a formal record of its debates for future reference. It is not difficult to see why, especially at a time when fundamental differences arose between the king and the Commons over property rights and the liberties of the subject. However, since he was well aware of the need to safeguard Members from arrest and preserve their right to free speech, Rich proposed the creation of a second Journal devoted exclusively to debates in which reported speeches would remain anonymous. According to the diarist John Newdigate, this suggestion was well received, but no other source bears out this claim and there is no evidence that a parallel Journal was ever started.139

Before 1610 the clerk never recorded committee proceedings. However, in April 1604 the committee appointed to examine the sheriff of Buckinghamshire handed Ewens a note of its deliberations for inclusion in the Journal,140 and in the following month, on the orders of the House, Ewens attended the commissioners for the Union and recorded their business.141 It was the emergence of the committee of the whole House that led to a gradual widening of the clerk’s duties. At first the clerk’s presence was not necessarily required at meetings of the grand committee, as is clear from the fact that on 14 May 1610 he had to be expressly ordered to attend. However, on 1 June 1610 Ewens remained in the chamber to assist the committee’s chairman, and on 23 June he recorded the committee’s deliberations in his Journal.142 In 1621 Wright, or perhaps his son, kept a ‘Book of Committees’, in which he noted the proceedings of the committee of the whole House. Although what survives covers only the period 19 February until 2 March, it seems clear, as Notestein, Relf and Simpson surmised, that a larger volume once existed. In March 1621 Smith of Nibley observed that there were ‘two books kept by the clerk of the House, the one of business of the House, the other of the committees of the whole House’, and in a marginal comment in the Journal the following month Wright referred to ‘the committee book’.143 The clerk’s practice of recording proceedings in grand committee continued after 1621, as a similar volume has survived for 1625,144 and an inventory of Wright’s papers, compiled in 1633, indicates that equivalent volumes were kept in 1624 and 1628.145 Whenever the clerk attended meetings of the grand committee, he surrendered his customary seat to the chairman but remained seated at the table.

The Journal and the book on grand committees were not, of course, the only records compiled by the clerk. In 1621 Wright kept a ‘book of orders’ consisting of extracts from the Journal, and a similar volume may also have been compiled in 1610.146 Moreover, as Notestein supposed, Ewens appears to have kept a book of precedents. A document certainly answering this description, dating from shortly after 1604 and compiled by the clerk or one of his servants, survives among the Petyt manuscripts.147 These books were normally kept in the chamber for both the clerk and Members to consult, as their absence was noted at the start of the 1621 Parliament by Edward Alford, who obtained an instruction that they be brought in ‘according to the ancient order’.148

As well as keeping the formal record of the House and compiling works of reference, the clerk occasionally performed secretarial duties for the Speaker. Thus in May 1607 a warrant to arrest one John Smyth for serving a subpoena on Philip Gawdy was ‘framed by the clerk’, while in March 1621 Sir George More announced that the responsibility for writing letters to justices of assize for staying trials of Members of the Commons ‘belongeth to the clerk’.149 On at least one occasion, in June 1604, Ewens drafted an order of the House himself, ‘being so directed’.150 In April 1607, and again in December 1621, the clerk prepared a note of the state of all the bills in the House for the Speaker, who communicated it to the House, and in March 1628 Wright was ordered to list all the bills of both Houses which had failed to pass in 1626.151

Of course, the clerk was first and foremost an officer of the House rather than of the Speaker, and his duties accordingly reflected that fact. When the Commons received the original Instrument of the Union from the Lords on 20 November 1606 it fell to Ewens to make a copy for the House.152 Transferring bills that had passed their second reading from paper to parchment was also the clerk’s responsibility.153 From time to time the clerk also made last-minute textual alterations to measures before they were sent to the Lords. On 9 August 1625 for example, he was ordered to insert six words into the bill for restraining the grant of writs of habeas corpus after it was given a third reading.154

The clerk was the keeper of the Commons’ records as well as its clerical officer. Naturally he kept the Journal and any other books he created himself, such as those relating to orders, precedents and grand committees. However, he also took custody of any evidence supplied to the House. For example, on 17 May 1628 it was ordered that various patents and warrants relating to the petition of the Goldsmiths’ Company were to be handed to him.155 Before a long adjournment or at the end of each session, the clerk took into his safekeeping any bills remaining in the House, though in practice individual Members sometimes hung on to these themselves. Bills so surrendered were meant to be returned at the beginning of the next sitting.156 It was not only bills that the clerk took into his temporary custody. When the House adjourned for Christmas in 1606, Sir Henry Montagu ‘privately’ handed Ewens a paper detailing the proceedings of the previous day’s joint conference with the Lords on the Union. Ewens retained this paper until 13 February 1607, when the House ordered it to be returned to Montagu for reporting.157 At the end of the Westminster sitting in 1625, Sir George More was ordered to seal up and bring in more than 20 petitions concerning matters of privilege and hand them to the clerk ‘with a note of the order wherein they were received’.158

The clerk performed several other important functions in addition to his clerical and archival duties. One of the most important was to look up precedents from the books in his keeping. These he communicated to the Speaker in a whisper rather than by public speech. He performed the same service for the chairman of the committee of the whole House, for on 1 June 1610 Ewens sat alongside Richard Martin ‘to explain and make known the orders’.159 Another of the clerk’s duties was to read prayers before the start of business each day. These were placed at the front of the House’s copy of the Book of Common Prayer.160 The clerk did not usually begin his reading until the Speaker was in the chamber, and in February 1621 he announced that he would not start unless there were also at least twenty Members present.161 However, twice in 1606 Ewens read the Speaker’s prayers as well as his own because Phelips was absent. Though he was merely following the example set by his predecessor in 1593, this departure from ancient practice caused ‘some mislike’ and he was prevented from doing so again.162 In reading prayers before the Speaker, the clerk was echoing the procedure laid down for the formal reading of bills. At each bill reading the clerk read the measure in full before handing it to the Speaker, whose hand he kissed.163

Prayers and bill readings were usually the only occasions on which the clerk was required to address the House. However, he sometimes read out other documents, such as the list of nine grievances delivered in by Nicholas Fuller in May 1606.164 Whenever the clerk read aloud he was meant to do so ‘plainly and sensibly’.165

An important duty of the clerk was to provide books and stationery for himself and his servants. Like the clerk of the parliaments he was supplied by the king’s printer, and certainly before 1610 he was reimbursed in full. Thus on 26 November 1605 Ewens was paid £21 14s. 2d. ‘for books, parchment, paper and other necessaries employed and expended for the use and service of the said House upon a bill of particulars made by His Majesty’s printer and himself’.166 However, twice in 1610 the clerk received a flat-rate payment of £20, suggesting that a now cash-strapped Crown was attempting to economize on his spending.167 None of the bills for stationery prepared before 1610 seem to have survived, but an indication of the sort of supplies needed is contained within a detailed account of deliveries made to the clerk during the first seventeen months of the Long Parliament.168 Many of the items mentioned are unsurprising, such as paper and parchment, pens and pumice stones, ink and inkhorns, glue and penknives, and rulers and sand. However, the clerk also required bags (two leather, one satin), pewter stands, steel compasses, red tape, candlesticks and a couple of trunks for storing his books. Among the printed volumes with which he was furnished were several bibles, six copies of the 1640 Canons, one copy of the Canons of 1604, two handsomely bound service books containing the Psalms, several almanacs and a copy of Rastell’s printed collection of statutes.

At the beginning of each Parliament the clerk recorded the names of those Members who swore the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy prior to taking their seats. When, in February 1621, a question arose over whether all Members had actually taken the oaths, Sir Warwick Hele proposed that Wright ‘may produce the names of those which he hath that were sworn’.169 Furthermore, in 1614 and in every successive Parliament before that of 1628, the clerk helped to organize the Members’ communion, and in 1621 he was expressly instructed to notify Dr. James Ussher, bishop of Meath, that he had been chosen to preach.170

It may also have fallen to the clerk to fix notices and committee lists to the door of the chamber; certainly, documents were displayed in this way in 1614, 1621 and 1624.171 From time to time the Speaker ordered the clerk to make copies of important documents for distribution to Members. In March 1624, for example, Wright was ordered to copy for each Member James’s answer to the Commons’ petition to break off the Spanish treaty negotiations.172 Copies so ordered may have been provided free of charge, but whenever Members or lobbyists privately requested copies of committee lists, bills or breviates the clerk demanded a fee. Under Elizabeth a penny was exacted for every ten lines, but Ewens evidently increased the rate substantially following his appointment. In 1593, and again in 1598, the Coopers’ Company paid just 12d. for a committee list, whereas in 1604 Ewens charged 2s. for a similar list and a further 3s. 4d. for a revised list when new names were added.173

The increase in fees for copies may not have been simple profiteering but a response to uncertain remuneration from other sources. The clerk was entitled to an annual salary from the Crown of £10, but in practice his pay was often seriously in arrears. Shortly before the opening of the 1604 session Ewens received £5 from the Exchequer, but he received nothing more until August 1610, when he was paid £40 ‘for his sundry pains and charges since the beginning of this Parliament’.174

As well as his official salary, the clerk was entitled to a fee of 6s. 8d. for every licence of absence granted by the House. However, as most Members seem to have absented themselves without ever receiving a formal licence, the value of this perquisite is doubtful. Only one licence was issued in 1614, and only two and three in 1624 and 1625 respectively. The 32 issued in the 1605/6 session, worth a total of £10 13s. 4d., were exceptional, as were the 33 granted in 1626.175 The clerk was also entitled to a share of the money raised from Members at the end of nearly every session. Each knight of the shire was meant to contribute 5s. and each burgess 2s. 6d. Allowing for 378 burgesses and 90 county Members, the amount payable in 1604 was nearly £70. However, evasion seems to have been common as sums of this magnitude were seldom if ever paid. In July 1607 Ewens was granted a mere £10 from the money raised in 1606, and in May 1624 Wright was assigned just £30, with another £10 going to his son. Greater generosity appears to have been shown in June 1626, when the House ordered payment of £100 to the clerk out of the collection, but this sum probably included money which should have been paid to him in 1625.176 The House’s failure to reward its clerk more generously led Sir Edward Hoby in June 1604 to propose doubling the rates payable by every Member, but his motion was narrowly defeated.177

It seems likely that, like the serjeant-at-arms, the clerk levied a fee from each Member at the beginning of every Parliament, probably as they were sworn in. Certainly in April 1614 Sir Richard Paulet recorded paying 2s. 6d. ‘to the clerk of the Parliament [sic] and his man’.178 This fee, assuming it was paid by everyone, must have been a valuable source of income, for unlike the Members’ collection and licences of absence, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. The clerk also enjoyed a share of the fees paid by prisoners held by the serjeant-at-arms.179 Another source of profit was private bills. Elizabethan commentators agree that the clerk levied 40s. from the authors of each measure,180 and an examination of the accounts of the London livery companies largely bears out this claim. In 1593, 1597 and 1604 the Coopers certainly paid this rate, as did the Bakers in 1614 and the Tylers and Bricklayers in 1621.181 Some lobbyists, however, proved even more generous. In 1566 the Clothworkers not only conferred £3 on the Clerk ‘to prefer our bill’, but gave him a gallon of sack worth 2s. 6d. when it was enacted.182 In 1607 the Carpenters paid Ewens 20s. on top of the 40s. they had already given him after their bill passed its second reading. Even so, it was not unknown for the clerk to receive less than the standard fee: in 1610 the corporation of Exeter gave him just 10s. in connection with its weir bill.183

Bills yielded fees for the clerk in more ways than one. In 1606 the Cordwainers, who had opposed a measure hostile to its interests in the previous session, gave him 16s. 4d. ‘to give notice of any bill that should pass this Parliament concerning the Company and for other charges spent about the same’. In 1621 the Grocers paid Wright 22s. ‘in regard he should give this Company notice of the Apothecaries’ proceedings’. As a trained lawyer, Wright seems to have been particularly adept at picking up fees from lobbyists keen to exploit his legal qualifications. When the Tylers and Bricklayers preferred legislation in 1621, they gave him 22s. ‘for his opinion upon our bill’. The Grocers gave him an equivalent sum that same year ‘for his advice’ regarding their petition to the House.184 The rewards bestowed upon the clerk by lobbyists were not always financial: in June 1606 the Goldsmiths’ Company admitted Ewens to its freedom.185

A hidden financial benefit enjoyed by the clerk was that the Commons made a contribution to the cost of his staff. In July 1607, for example, Members ordered that Ewens’ four servants should be paid 20s. each out of their collection. Lobbyists, too, sometimes rewarded the clerk’s men separately. According to the Elizabethan commentators, the authors of private legislation were expected to pay 10s. per bill for this purpose, over and above the 40s. due to the clerk himself. The detailed accounts kept by many of the London livery companies, however, indicate that when this money was paid at all, smaller amounts were generally forthcoming. In 1614, for example, the Bakers paid just 5s. to ‘the under-clerks of the Parliament House’ in connection with their bill.186 The generosity of the Tylers and Bricklayers in 1621 was exceptional: they gave 5s. ‘to Mr. Richardson, Mr. Wright’s clerk’, and made two payments of 10s. each made to Wright’s men, of which one was shared with the Speaker.187 Occasionally, the junior clerks supplemented their income by performing particular services for lobbyists. In 1614 10s. was paid to one of the junior clerks by the Bakers for penning a breviate, while in 1621 the Grocers gave 20s. to Wright’s son ‘to prepare, read and expedite’ their petition against the Apothecaries.188

Each of the clerk’s servants probably had a particular set of duties to perform. Valentine Sayre, for instance, carried Ewens’ bags.189 The most important servant, however, was the chief or deputy clerk, who sat on a low chair alongside his master at the table.190 In 1604 this position was filled by Cadwallader Tidder, or Tudor, who had served as chief clerk to Fulk Onslow. A reader of Latin, French and Spanish,191 Tidder was probably related to a family of London brewers of that name who were active in the early seventeenth century. This may explain why the Brewers’ Company, whose assistants included a Thomas Tidder, paid no fees to the clerk for their bill in 1604 even though their very full accounts acknowledge payments to both the Speaker and Serjeant-at-Arms.192 Tidder’s service under Onslow must have proved invaluable to Ewens, whose experience of working in the Commons before 1604 was limited to membership of the 1597-8 Parliament. How long he remained in Ewens’ service is unclear, but his name disappears from the record after June 1604.193 Wright’s chief clerk was his son John, who was mainly employed in shadowing his father. In 1624 and 1625 the younger Wright kept parallel Journals of proceedings, perhaps in the expectation that he would take down anything significant which his father missed.194 Both Tidder and the younger Wright assumed the clerk’s duties whenever the latter was absent. Tidder was particularly well qualified to act as deputy, having often replaced the aged Onslow, most recently during most of the 1601 Parliament.195 Just seven weeks into the 1604 session, the inexperienced Ewens, feeling the strain of his ‘long and painful sitting’, asked that Tidder should supply his place for a few days. In mid-February 1621 illness led the elder Wright to surrender his place to his son,196 and during 1628 the younger Wright often noted proceedings in his father’s Journal.197

Whenever the deputy clerk replaced his master, he created a vacancy himself. Whenever this occurred it seems likely that it was normal for one of the junior clerks to step into his shoes, but when Wright’s inexperienced son took over from his father in February 1621 the House debated whether some of the lawyer-Members should take turns to sit alongside him. It was certainly not unknown for a Member to assume clerical duties in the House, for in 1587 William Onslow, sitting for Penryn, had deputized for the clerk during his illness, and twice in 1604 Sir Thomas Lake read royal messages to the House because Ewens could not decipher James’s handwriting.198 Consequently, it was ordered that a different lawyer should occupy the assistant’s chair each day. However, the instruction was not observed.199

It is unclear whether the clerk was provided with a work room. Under Elizabeth he certainly occupied an office within the Palace of Westminster. Located in the south-west corner of St. Stephen’s Chapel, it is first mentioned in the Works’ accounts for the late 1560s, and the records of the Coopers’ Company suggest that it may still have existed in 1593.200 However, there is no evidence that it passed to Ewens, although he did enjoy accommodation in the Palace. Indeed, in 1611 he recalled that at the time of the Gunpowder Plot he had lodged ‘under the Court of Wards, being the next wall to the vault’. This precise location is questionable, however, as the Court of Wards did not adjoin the vault under the Lords’ chamber. It seems much more likely that he actually meant the Court of Requests.201

The serjeant-at-arms and his servants

Like the clerk, the serjeant-at-arms was appointed by the king rather than the Commons and held office for life. By the terms of his patent, he was required to ‘attend upon His Majesty’s person when there is no Parliament, and at the time of every Parliament to attend upon the Speaker of the House of Commons’. Because he served both the king and the Commons, the serjeant received, in effect, two salaries.202 His dual responsibilities were reflected in the style he adopted for himself: ‘serjeant-at-arms to the king, attendant on the Commons House of Parliament’.203

Unlike the Speaker, who sometimes found it difficult to serve two masters, the serjeant rarely found the two sides of his office to be in conflict. Nevertheless, in November 1610, when the House sought to establish on whose authority thirty of its Members had privately conferred with the king, the serjeant was obliged to explain that it was he who had notified the Members involved to attend the meeting after receiving a list of their names from the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Julius Caesar.204

Between 1590 and his death in mid-March 1610 the office of serjeant was filled by Roger Wood, a prosperous man judging by his will, who received a grant of arms in 1606 and leased property in the London parishes of St. Sepulchre and St. Andrew’s, Holborn. His successor, Edward Grimston, claimed to be ‘old and far stricken in years’ in 1628, and held the post until his death in 1640.205 As the range of his duties was wide, the serjeant was obliged to keep several servants, who were sometimes incorrectly referred to as though they were serjeants in their own right.206 The number of these assistants is uncertain and may have fluctuated. In December 1601 three of Wood’s men helped carry from the chamber Robert Bowyer, who had fainted, and in July 1607 payment was ordered to ‘four of Mr. Serjeant’s men’, including Thomas Leech and a man named Owen.207 At least four men were retained by Grimston in 1624, and in 1621 the serjeant’s servants included John Harvey, Hugh Buns(t)on and an unnamed clerk.208 Despite enjoying the services of these individuals, the serjeant occasionally found himself shorthanded. In November 1601 Wood offered to ‘get one of his fellow serjeants’ to fetch the bailiffs of Shrewsbury, or to ‘procure a pursuivant’ – a term often applied to messengers of the Chamber – instead. In 1610 the serjeant actually sent ‘Ferris the pursuivant’ to fetch the absentee Member Sir Richard Paulet.209 Members of the Commons were not normally expected to assist their hard-pressed serjeant, although in 1581 Sir Thomas Scott and Sir Thomas Browne were detailed to help him arrest their disgraced colleague Arthur Hall. When the Commons debated in May 1604 how to procure the release of the imprisoned Member Sir Thomas Shirley, it was resolved that ‘no Members of the House [are] to assist the serjeant’ as ‘judges cannot be ministers’.210 The serjeant normally deployed his servants as he saw fit, but in February 1621 he was ordered to assign one of his men to the committee for grievances ‘to execute their commands’.211

It was the serjeant’s responsibility to carry the silver mace, the main symbol of royal authority in the Commons, which normally rested on the clerk’s table below the Speaker’s chair.212 Whenever he left the chamber on official business, the serjeant took the mace with him.213 If the Speaker travelled about town, for instance, the serjeant rode ahead, holding the mace ‘before him reverently’.214 The serjeant was consequently a familiar sight to the citizens of London, who frequently referred to him as the ‘macebearer’.215

Inside the Palace of Westminster, one of the serjeant’s main duties was to control access to the Commons, which was gained by passing through two sets of doors. Serjeant Wood assigned several of his servants at a time to act as doorkeepers, as did his predecessor, Ralph Bowyer. Indeed, no less than three of Wood’s men performed this duty in 1606.216 Serjeant Grimston, by contrast, may have been more sparing. In 1621 the London Plaisterers’ Company paid 1s. to ‘the porter at the Parliament House’, and in 1624 the House ordered payment ‘to the young fellow that keep[s] … the door’.217 His control of the doors meant that the serjeant was normally entrusted with the keys. During the 1620s the House occasionally sat behind locked doors to prevent Members from leaving before the end of a sensitive debate. On such occasions the serjeant was ordered to bring the key to the chamber door up to the table or to hand it to one of the Members.218

Only the officers and Members of the House were normally permitted inside the chamber, although access to the lobby was less restricted. Perhaps to prevent strangers from entering, the serjeant compiled (or was provided with) a book of Members’ names and their constituencies at the start of each Parliament. This book, which duplicated the register created at around the same time by the clerk of the Crown, may also have enabled the serjeant to levy fees from each Member. On the first day of the Parliament each knight of the shire paid him 4s., each burgess gave him 2s. and both paid a further 3s. 8d. to the doorkeeper. In return, Members had their names entered in the serjeant’s book.219 Despite the best efforts of the serjeant and his servants to restrict access, it was inevitable in a body as large as the Commons that strangers would occasionally slip in unnoticed. On 31 March 1610, for instance, the younger son of Sir William Crawford had to be ejected from the chamber after he was spotted by Grimston, who had been in post just two weeks. In April 1628 a scholar named Philip Parsons escaped Grimston’s notice, and ‘stood almost an hour in the entry’ during the supply debate before he was finally identified as an intruder.220

As well as controlling access to the Commons, the serjeant and his staff were meant to keep the entry clear. The inner door dividing the Commons from the lobby was often left open to allow Members to come and go freely, but this also meant that Members, as well as occasional intruders, tended to congregate at the doorway and chatter, disrupting proceedings and making it difficult to pass in and out easily.221 The problem was something of a running sore, and every now and then the serjeant was authorized to fine each offender 12d. on the spot.222 From time to time he also cleared the stairs that led from Westminster Hall to the landing outside the Commons’ chamber, as these were often frequented by disorderly serving men and pages belonging to Members of both Houses.223

As the Commons’ doorkeeper, the serjeant was well placed to fine latecomers, though he was instructed to do so only once, in June 1628.224 He also played a crucial role during divisions. Whenever a division was ordered, the serjeant and his men cleared the lobby, sending anyone who was there upstairs. Meanwhile, the doors dividing the lobby from the landing were locked to prevent others from entering. When the lobby was cleared, the serjeant informed the Speaker, who would then proceed to appoint tellers.225 In conveying this information to the Speaker, the serjeant did not address the House, but was required to ‘inform the Speaker in his ear, who is to declare it publicly’. On the rare occasions when it became necessary for the serjeant to address the House, he stood near the bar, facing the Speaker, to whom he bowed three times before making his announcement.226

Although termed ‘our usher’ by Edward Nicholas in 1621,227 the serjeant did much more than control access to the chamber and clear the lobby and entry. One of his principal duties was to carry out arrests on behalf of the House. When those to be fetched lived nearby, the serjeant might perform this duty in person, but if the miscreant dwelt outside London he sent a servant instead. Ordered to bring up the sheriff of Cardiganshire in April 1604, Serjeant Wood ‘used a deputy, being daily attendant upon the House himself’, and in March 1628 Grimston dispatched John English to Cornwall to bring up five gentlemen wanted by the House.228 The serjeant normally located the person named in his warrant fairly swiftly, but in March 1624 Grimston proved unable to find the Liverpool Member, Sir Thomas Gerrard, who was wanted for failing to take the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy.229 It was not always possible to apprehend the person named in the warrant even if he could be found. In 1604 Wood failed to persuade the warden of the Fleet to release into his custody Sir Thomas Shirley. Twenty years later Grimston proved unable to execute his warrant to arrest the monopolist Matthias Fowles because Fowles was then languishing in the Fleet.230 Violence was seldom offered to the serjeant or his men, but was not unknown. In April 1621 two of Grimston’s servants, ordered to arrest Roger Preston and William Martin in an alehouse, were sent packing by Preston’s brother, who assaulted them with a long staff. 231

It was unusual for the serjeant to place a close guard on those he was sent to fetch, although in March 1604 Wood was instructed to bring up one man in such a way that he should ‘speak with none in the meantime but in the serjeant’s hearing’.232 Failure to keep a close guard inevitably gave rise to occasional incidents. In May 1614 the sheriff of Northumberland was accused of having out-ridden and misused the serjeant’s man who had been sent to fetch him.233 In March 1621 Grimston, instructed to take hold of Sir Giles Mompesson, foolishly allowed his prisoner to return home to fetch his papers, whereupon Mompesson, aided by his wife, escaped through a back door. Grimston earned a severe reprimand for his mistake, but he evidently failed to learn his lesson, for in July 1625 an alehousekeeper committed to his custody also got away, ‘and vaunts how he has escaped and triumphs over his accusers’.234

No-one except the serjeant was permitted to bring prisoners into the House, not even his servants. Indeed, when it was suggested that the sheriff of Shropshire be brought to the bar in May 1604 it was decided to await the return of Serjeant Wood, who was on another errand, as ‘no delinquent is to be brought in but by the serjeant with his mace’.235 On 3 March 1621, however, Grimston himself was obliged to appear at the bar to explain the circumstances of Mompesson’s escape.236 Before a prisoner could be brought in the serjeant was required to remove his weapons. In June 1621 the ever-careless Grimston was reproved ‘for suffering a delinquent to come in armed’.237 Once this was done the serjeant entered with his prisoner, ‘advanced’ his mace and bowed to the Speaker.238 Throughout the arraignment he stood beside his kneeling prisoner.239

Many of those arrested by the serjeant were subsequently gaoled by the House, and were escorted by him to prison. In February 1621, for example, Grimston was instructed to conduct the monopolist Sir Francis Michell to the Tower ‘on foot through London streets’.240 More often than not, however, the Commons entrusted its prisoners to the care of the serjeant, who accommodated them in his own house.241 Most prisoners were not permitted to leave the serjeant’s house while they were in custody, but in February 1607 an exception was made at the behest of the Speaker for the attorney Robert Bateman, who was allowed to dispatch his client’s business for a few days under the watchful eye of one of the serjeant’s men.242 Occasionally the serjeant took bail from his prisoners, thereby avoiding the need for incarceration altogether. In May 1621 Randolph Davenport was freed on bail of £1,000 after Hakewill assured the Commons that the serjeant ‘hath often taken bond of men to be forthcoming’, and in July 1625 Grimston granted Richard Montagu bail of £2,000 after he was privately told he could do so.243

One of the serjeant’s most important duties was to run messages. On 2 June 1607 Wood was dispatched to the Court of Wards ‘to entreat the committee [for the Hostile Laws bill] to come into the House’, and on 25 June 1628 Grimston was ‘sent to all the committees, to let them know that, by order of the House, they are dissolved for the present’.244 The summoning of witnesses also fell to the serjeant and his servants. On one occasion the ‘serjeant’s man’ was sent to warn the customs’ officers to attend the committee concerned with the illegal export of iron ordnance,245 while on another the serjeant was ordered to bring the beneficiary of a private land bill to the appropriate committee in person.246 Summoning witnesses may have been something of a full-time job, and Grimston at least deputed this task to one of his servants.247 The serjeant was frequently required to fetch absentees. Indeed, in nearly every session he was sent at least once to round up the lawyers practising before the courts in Westminster Hall.248 If any Member was sued, arrested or attached it was the serjeant who was dispatched to inform the relevant judges that the party molested was a Member of the Commons and to order the court to call in its process.249

As well as carrying messages for the House, the serjeant notified the Speaker whenever messengers arrived from the Lords. Sometimes he brought messages to the Commons himself. In 1604 the imprisoned Member Roger Brereton ‘delivereth a petition to the serjeant’, who in turn handed it to the Member for Preston, William Holt.250 In 1589 the Coopers’ Company of London paid Serjeant Bowyer ‘for carrying in a note to Sir George Barne [one of the Members for London] to move that our bill might be read’,251 and in September 1627 the East India Company bestowed 20s. on Henry Compton, one of the serjeant’s men, ‘who in the Parliament time had shown himself ready to serve the Company’.252 When Parliament was not in session, responsibility for cleaning the Commons lay with the under-keeper of the Palace of Westminster.253 While it sat this duty fell to the serjeant, who evidently delegated it to one of his men, as one of Grimston’s servants singled out by the House for reward in May 1624 was ‘he that sweeps’.254 The serjeant was also responsible for purchasing provisions for the House, for which he received an allowance from the Exchequer. In July 1607 Wood was paid £13 16s. 8d. ‘for divers provisions of necessaries of the lower House, for the 2nd and 3rd sessions’, and in February 1611 Grimston received £20 for similar expenditure incurred during the two sessions of 1610.255 The sums involved varied, suggesting that payments were based on itemized bills of expenses. None of these bills are known to have survived, but in the early eighteenth century the serjeant’s regular purchases included candles, buckets, mops and brooms.256 The serjeant may also have provided staves for the tellers, as well as soft furnishings. Shortly after the end of the 1576 session the incoming serjeant took into store two carpets, thirteen cushions and thirty-nine yards of blue and yellow say, ‘to be from time to time delivered into the lower House of Parliament at such times as any such session shall be to the use of the Commons of the same’. The cushions were probably provided for the comfort of the Speaker and the privy councillors in the House, while the smaller of the two carpets may have covered the clerk’s table. The say was perhaps used to provide a makeshift curtain.257 Only once is it possible to catch a glimpse of the serjeant buying a specific item for the Commons. In March 1593 Wood was given 12d. by each Member ‘for his attendance, and for the charges of a clock set up by him for the use of the House’.258

As well as serving as the Commons’ macebearer, usher, messenger, gaoler, purveyor and cleaner, the serjeant performed a range of miscellaneous duties, such as collecting from Members granted leave of absence their contribution to the House’s collection for the poor. At the end of the 1614 Parliament money undistributed from the previous session was placed in his hands.259 On one occasion, in 1614, Grimston was sent to confer with his Lords’ counterpart, the gentleman usher, to learn whether a reply would be sent later that day to an earlier message from the Commons.260 In August 1625 the serjeant and his men were ordered to reserve seats for Members in the church where the fast service was to be held.261

It was not only the House which benefited from the services of the serjeant. Through him lobbyists could gain the Speaker’s attention, particularly during the late Elizabethan period, when the clerk of the Commons was frequently ill and served by deputy. In 1589, for instance, the serjeant was paid 20s. by the Curriers’ Company of London for helping ‘to procure our reading’, and it gave him the same sum again in 1593. During the 1576 session the Speaker was informed that the serjeant was well acquainted with the London Cordwainers’ Company, as ‘they be his clients’.262

As noted earlier, the serjeant collected two salaries, one for his Commons’ duties and the other for attending the king. Each was worth 12d. per day, producing a combined annual income of £36 10s., though payment seems to have been irregular. In addition, at the end of each Parliament the serjeant was permitted to keep various items of furniture provided for the Commons. In 1628, for example, he claimed ‘one joined table with drawing boxes’. The remove to Oxford in August 1625 evidently prevented Grimston from exercising this customary right, as he was given 20s. in cash in lieu of two tables.263 Over and above his salary and perquisites, the serjeant was entitled to receive a new livery from the Great Wardrobe every year.264

Although the serjeant was well remunerated, the sums he received from the king formed only a fraction of his income. One of his most important sources of additional income was the money paid to him by every Member at the beginning of every Parliament, this being (as previously mentioned) 4s. from every knight of the shire and 2s. from every burgess. As the number of burgesses rose (from 378 in 1604 to 403 in 1629), the value of this levy increased, from £55 16s. to £58 6s. In addition to this fee, the serjeant, like the clerk, received a share of the proceeds of the Members’ collection, which was normally distributed at the end of each session. The sums involved varied significantly from one session to another. In 1601 the serjeant received £30, whereas in 1606 he was given just £12, though a further £6 was paid to his servants. In 1624 he was granted £10 ‘by precedent’, and additional sums were paid to his men.265

The serjeant further supplemented his income with fees from lobbyists. Like the Speaker and the clerk, he was entitled to payment for each private bill laid before the House. His schedule of fees was set out in detail in the early 1640s by the then serjeant John Hunt for the benefit of his Irish counterpart. According to Hunt, who claimed that his rates were the same as those ‘taken and recovered by my predecessors’, the serjeant was entitled to receive 20s. for a private bill unless the party involved compounded at a lower rate. If the bill concerned more than one person or a corporation, the amount due was normally 40s. For every 20s. paid to the serjeant, a further 5s. was owed to his servants. Contrary to the assertion of the Elizabethan commentator John Hooker, fees were due whether or not a bill was enacted, although in the case of bills of naturalization the serjeant was entitled to receive an additional 10s. from the party concerned if the measure became law.266

Despite this elaborate tariff, in practice the fees charged by the serjeant were flexible, as Hunt himself indicated and as an inspection of the records of the London livery companies reveals. Sometimes they were on the light side, as in 1593, when the Coopers’ Company gave just 10s. to the serjeant and only 12d. for his man. On other occasions the fees paid corresponded with Hunt’s scale, as in 1604, when the Coopers paid 20s. to the serjeant and 5s. to his servant. More generous payment was not unknown, for in 1604 the Brewers gave Serjeant Wood 40s. in connection with their bill, twice as much as the Coopers, although they paid nothing at all to his servants.267 The amounts payable perhaps reflected the relative wealth of each particular group of lobbyists, but they may also have mirrored the progress of the bill concerned. So a measure which failed to advance far did not generally attract large fees, whereas a bill which completed all its Commons’ stages and passed to the Lords might earn the serjeant a handsome payment and even a bonus. The relationship between fees payable and progress made is most clearly observable in the accounts of the Coopers’ Company for 1589. The Company paid no fees to the serjeant until 22 March, the day after their bill was ordered to be engrossed. Further payment was made on the 24th, when the bill received its final reading and was sent up to the Lords. In all, the serjeant and his men received 28s., three shillings more than the amount due according to the Hooker/Lambarde scale. Clear evidence that bonus payments were sometimes made is to be found in the Coopers’ accounts for 1597, when two bills were presented by the Company to the Commons, one of which completed its passage through the House. Wood received not only 30s. in cash but one-and-a-half hogsheads of wine costing £3 10s. His servants, meanwhile, were paid a total of 21s., an exceptionally generous sum.268

Fees from bill promoters were not the serjeant’s only source of income from lobbyists. Those who wished to block legislation or keep an eye on bills that might prove hostile to their interests were just as likely to pay him fees. In 1604, for example, the Vintners’ Company, alert to the number of alehouse bills before the Commons that year, paid Wood 20s. for providing them with copies of two such measures, plus an additional 40s. Most likely the Company asked him to send them word if any of the alehouse bills appeared to cross their interests, but whatever the reason for this second payment it was repeated in the following session.269 Fees were also charged if lobbyists opposed to a bill desired to be heard by their counsel. According to Hunt, the going rate was 12s. per lawyer, of which sum 10s. went to the serjeant and 2s. to his men.270 In 1584 the City of London, which customarily gave the Speaker a cash gift at the beginning of each Parliament, extended its largesse to include the serjeant, who received a gratuity of 20s.271

There were two further sources of income available to the serjeant. The first arose from the fees payable by those summoned by the Commons. In May 1610 a Commons committee specified that the serjeant could charge absentee Members

20s. for their summons, plus 12d. for every mile travelled in coming and going to fetch them.272 These fees aroused hostility among some Members, and in May 1614 a complaint was made,273 but the charges made by the serjeant were lower than the fees demanded from non-Members which, as Serjeant Hunt described in the early 1640s, were graduated to reflect the social status of the delinquent. Thus a knight paid £5 for his summons plus 26s. 8d. per day in riding costs, while an esquire paid £3 6s. 8d. and 20s. respectively.274

Distinctions of rank did not colour the second source of income available to the serjeant, this being the cost of incarcerating his prisoners. Each prisoner was charged 20s. per day over and above the 16s. he was forced to pay for his appearance at the bar of the House. Some of this money was obviously needed to feed, house and guard the prisoner, and part may also have gone to the clerk of the Commons, but a substantial amount must have been pure profit, as a passage in the infamous ‘Fart’ poem of 1607 implies. Here a Member proposes committing the offending wind to the custody of Wood: ‘No so quoth the Serjeant bent low on his knees, / Farts will break prison but never pay fees’.275 Prisoners were sometimes held for weeks on end, so that the amount they owed quickly mounted up. Refusals to pay were rare, but in 1628 five Cornish gentlemen declined to pay the whole cost of their 40 days’ imprisonment, causing Grimston to mount a prosecution in Chancery.276

The clerk of the Crown in Chancery and other custodians of royal records

During the sixteenth century the clerk of the Crown in Chancery was regarded as an officer of the Lords rather than the Commons. In the upper House he sat on the lowermost woolsack facing the throne and occasionally stood in for the clerk of the parliaments. John Hooker, the Elizabethan expert on parliamentary procedure, regarded him as the deputy to the clerk of the parliaments, but it seems likely that there was in fact no formal relationship between the two men, and that the services provided by Thomas Powle, clerk of the Crown 1546-1601, for Anthony Mason, clerk of the parliaments 1574-97, were of a temporary and personal nature.277

In the early seventeenth century the clerk of the Crown continued to serve the Lords, helping to convey messages and bills to the Commons.278 However in March 1620 the clerkship was acquired by the treasurer of the Household, Sir Thomas Edmondes. As Edmondes sat in the Commons throughout the 1620s it was not Edmondes himself but his deputy who waited on the Lords. On 26 March 1621 the deputy clerk, John Benbow, was instructed to note down proceedings in the Lords, the clerk of the parliaments then being ‘very busy writing fair the sentence agreed against Sir Giles Mompesson’.279 A list of royal officeholders compiled in 1626 continued to describe the clerk of the Crown as a servant of the upper House.280

Although considered a servant of the Lords, the clerk was also expected to wait upon the Commons. In 1601 the lower House asserted that he was ‘our immediate officer’ after Lord Keeper Egerton insisted that warrants authorizing by-elections be sent directly to him by the Speaker. Following this disagreement, the solicitor general announced that henceforward the clerk of the Crown would be regarded as the servant of both Houses, and so ‘be attendant between the two doors of the upper House and the lower House’.281

The main duties of the clerk of the Crown in respect of the Commons concerned the election indentures returned to Chancery. As has been explained in Chapter 4, the returning officers for each constituency were required, after every election, to deliver their indentures to the clerk, who exacted a fee for filing them.282 From these returns the clerk compiled a book containing the names of every Member, ‘which followeth the order of the alphabet of the shires’.283 These Crown Office lists, some of which still survive,284 featured prominently at the start of every Parliament, as before the Commons commenced sitting its Members attended a roll-call, either in the lobby of St. Stephen’s Chapel or the nearby Court of Requests. There the clerk of the Crown or his deputy read from his book the name of each Member, which was then called aloud by a crier of Chancery.285 Those present then paid a fee to the clerk over and above the money already given for filing the return. Thus on his arrival at Westminster in April 1614, the newly elected Member for Whitchurch, Sir Richard Paulet, gave the clerk of the Crown and his servant 2s. 6d.286 A copy of the clerk’s register was subsequently deposited with the clerk of the Commons, who used it whenever the House held a roll-call. Thus on 9 June 1607 the House was called ‘by the general book of names, in order as they are set down by the clerk of the Crown at the beginning of the Parliament’.287

As the custodian of the election indentures, the clerk of the Crown was often called into the Commons at the beginning of a Parliament, when disputed returns were considered. On 23 March 1604, for instance, the then clerk, Sir George Coppyn, came before the House with ‘all the writs of summons, indentures and returns made of the knights of the shire for Buckinghamshire for this Parliament’. After these were read out by the clerk of the Commons, Coppyn, standing at the bar, was ‘commanded to retire to the door’.288 In March 1628 the deputy clerk of the Crown was required to explain from whom he had received an indenture after a second return for Cornwall had been returned to Chancery directly rather than via the sheriff, as the law required. The following morning the deputy clerk admitted that he had ‘received but one indenture from Mr. Sparkes [the under-sheriff], the other from the parties’.289

Not all business relating to disputed returns was dealt with in the chamber, and consequently the clerk of the Crown had often to appear before the privileges committee.290 After judgment had been reached, the clerk or his deputy was sometimes called back to the House, particularly if an indenture was to be amended. On such occasions he was usually permitted to approach the table himself, although in 1621 Benbow remained at the bar while the Leicestershire return was altered.291 If an indenture was to be quashed altogether there was no need for the clerk of the Crown to attend, as a simple instruction to remove it from the files was all that was needed.

Before the 1620s the clerk of the Crown was chiefly employed by the Commons in matters relating to its own elections, but thereafter he or his deputy was often required to produce for inspection other documents in his care. In March and April 1628, for instance, he was ordered to produce the instructions issued to the commissioners for the Forced Loan, as well as the commission documents themselves, and on 7 June he was told to attend the grand committee that afternoon ‘with the commission, or warrant, or copy of it, concerning excises or impositions’.292 There is no evidence that the Commons remunerated the clerk of the Crown for his services. By contrast, in 1626 the Bakers’ Company paid 4s. to search in ‘Mr. Benbow’s office’ and at the Rolls in connection with its attempt to get the Commons to quash a patent of which it disapproved.293

The clerk of the Crown in Chancery was not the only royal official to hold records of interest to the Commons. One of the most important royal repositories was the Tower of London, which housed the medieval rolls of Parliament.294 The Commons often needed to consult the Tower records, and consequently required the assistance of their custodians. In June 1610, with the House about to embark on a lengthy debate on the legality of impositions, the Tower clerks were ordered ‘to further the said search, by all such directions, notes or calendars as they have in their keeping’.295 Two Members of the Commons with offices in the Tower – Sir William Waad, the lieutenant of the Tower and Sir Robert Johnson, the clerk of the deliveries – were instructed to supervise this operation. Unfortunately, however, Johnson seems to have discharged his responsibility with great zeal, accusing one of the junior clerks in the Tower named Robson of ‘some slackness’ and ordering him to have copies of eight documents ready by six o’clock the following morning. Unwilling to take this treatment lying down, Robson appealed to his superior officer, Robert Bowyer, joint keeper of the Tower Records. Under normal circumstances, this appeal might have had no effect, but since Bowyer also held office as clerk of the parliaments there might be grounds for supposing that the Commons was trying to assert its authority over the clerk of the House of Lords. A quarrel between both Houses was, however, averted, after Bowyer had a quiet word with his fellow Middle Templar Sir James Whitelocke, then sitting for New Woodstock, who declared that ‘I see no cause Sir Robert Johnson had to be so very desirous to have expedition in this business’ as the House was then ‘tied to other weighty affairs of the king which will not have effect until this cause be ripened’.296

As the Tower clerks were not officers of the Commons they naturally exacted a fee for their searches, and also for any copies that they provided. In April 1606 the House reluctantly agreed to meet these charges out of the Members’ collection, but it was careful to describe the money so paid as ‘a benevolence and not fees’.297 The costs involved in carrying out searches and making copies could be considerable. Seven pounds was spent in 1614, and a further £22 16s. was laid out in the summer sitting of 1621.298 Additional expense was incurred later that year, but not paid until 1624, when the Tower clerks received £15 for searches and copies ‘at this and [the] last Parliament’.299

The Tower clerks were not alone in being paid to carry out searches among the records. In 1624 £5 was given to Mr. Humphrey of the Rolls Chapel, where many of the records of Chancery were lodged, and an equivalent sum was given to John Bradshaw, one of the deputy chamberlains of the Exchequer. Bradshaw was a particularly attentive searcher, as Simonds D’Ewes later recalled, and £2 was assigned to him in 1628 out of the Members’ collection ‘if so much can be gotten’.300


The keepers of the Westminster law courts or their servants, though not technically officers of the House, customarily received payment at the end of each session from the Commons, which frequently commandeered their rooms. In 1607 the House ordered £2 to be paid ‘to the usher’s man of the Court of Wards’ and £1 10s. ‘to the Usher’s man of the Exchequer’. In 1624 the attendants of the courts of Wards, Exchequer and Star Chamber were each paid £5, and in 1628 the Commons bestowed £2 upon the usher of the duchy out of the Members’ collection.301 The services performed by these minor servants of the law courts are not revealed by the Commons’ records, but evidently they acted as doorkeepers for the committees. In 1604 the Coopers’ Company of London tipped ‘the porter that kept the Exchequer chamber door where our committees met’, as did Exeter’s representatives six years later when the committee for the city’s weir bill likewise sat in the Exchequer. 302 In 1624 John Wotton, lobbyist for the Charterhouse hospital, gave a small fee to ‘the doorkeeper of the Court of Wards’ where the committee for the bill to put the hospital on a statutory foundation sat. 303 There seems to have been no fixed fee payable to the doorkeepers. The Coopers gave 3s., the Exeter men paid a generous 5s., but Wotton – like the Brewers in 1601 – gave just 12d. 304

The responsibility for policing the landing outside the Commons and the stairs leading down into Westminster Hall normally lay with the serjeant. However, in 1581, after a disturbance involving several pages and other servants, the Commons attempted to fix this duty upon the warden of the Fleet, who held the keepership of the Palace of Westminster by inheritance.305 Forty years later, renewed violence within sight of the law courts prompted Sir William Spencer to remind the House of this Elizabethan order. Spencer subsequently found an ally in William Hakewill who, anxious to prove that the House was entitled to proceed against the warden for abusing the prisoners in his care, announced that ‘it hath been resolved by question that the warden of the Fleet is an officer of this House’.306 This attempt to bring the warden under the control of the Commons seems to have failed, as it was not until the early 1640s that there is clear evidence that he was treated as one of its officers.307

Between 1609 and 1622 at least, some or all of the old Palace of Westminster was in the care of an under-keeper named Owen Jones. It is not known who appointed him, and the accounts kept by the Office of Works describe him in various ways. In 1610/11 he appears as the ‘under-housekeeper of the lower Parliament House’, and was paid 3s. 6d. for ‘making clean the House and opening the doors to the workmen’, whereas in 1613/14 he is styled ‘underkeeper of the Parliament Houses’. Two later accounts, compiled when Parliament was not sitting, refer to him as ‘under-keeper of Westminster Hall’.308 Whether Jones performed any duties when Parliament was in session is uncertain, but he may have been the ‘Owen’ who served Serjeant Wood in 1607.309

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush

End Notes

  • 1. For a discussion of his managerial role, see Chapter 13.
  • 2. Loach, Parl. under the Tudors, 45; HMC Finch, i. 43-4.
  • 3. CJ, i. 141b.
  • 4. Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 282; Lambarde’s Notes, 56.
  • 5. Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 292.
  • 6. In 1597 the House ‘hawked and spat’, but the diarist makes it clear that this was because the queen’s spokesman left a dramatic pause before announcing the name. In 1601 silence initially greeted the announcement that Sir John Croke was to be Speaker, but this was probably because many Members were angry at having been prevented from hearing the lord keeper’s speech a short while earlier: ibid. 227, 301.
  • 7. CJ, i. 141b.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 220: SP14/119/67; Hawarde 1624’, p. 143.
  • 9. HMC Finch, i. 44.
  • 10. For Bacon’s preparations, see Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, vii. 114-15, 117. Zaller states categorically that Richardson was chosen by Bacon: R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, pp. 28-9.
  • 11. Cordell (Suffolk); Gargrave (Yorks.); Coke (Norfolk) and Phelips (Somerset).
  • 12. Bell, however, was also recorder of King’s Lynn.
  • 13. HMC Downshire, iv. 325.
  • 14. On Pembroke’s key role in helping to bring about the 1614 Parl., see Chapter 13 and also Thrush, ‘The French Marriage and the Origins of the 1614 Parl.’, 30-1.
  • 15. J. Campbell, Lives of the Chief Justices, i. 377. The last Speaker who continued to sit in the House after vacating the chair was Henry Addington, Prime Minister in 1801: P. Laundy, The Office of Speaker, 116.
  • 16. Lambarde’s Notes, 58.
  • 17. CJ, i. 149a.
  • 18. Ibid. 518a.
  • 19. Ibid. 150a. Ralph Ewens observed that the Speaker’s prayer was ‘not of duty or necessity’, but that ‘heretofore of late time, the like hath been done by other speakers’. In 1610 the Speaker’s prayer was printed: ibid. 392a.
  • 20. Ibid. 456a. On the role of the Speaker’s clerks in drawing up breviates, see below. On breviates in general, see ‘Bills’.
  • 21. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 387.
  • 22. For a more detailed discussion, see Chapter 10.
  • 23. CJ, i. 515b.
  • 24. CD 1621, vi. 356.
  • 25. Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 459.
  • 26. E.R. Foster, ‘Speaking in the House of Commons’, BIHR, xliii. 51.
  • 27. C. Strateman Sims, ‘The Speaker of the House of Commons: An Early Seventeenth Century Tractate’, AHR, xlv. 93.
  • 28. CJ, i. 187b, 223a, 226a.
  • 29. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 89.
  • 30. ‘Paulet 1610’, f.26.
  • 31. CJ, i. 981b.
  • 32. Ibid. 508b.
  • 33. ‘Lowther 1624’, p. 9; ‘Pym 1624’, f. 50v; CD 1628, iv. 44, 249, 251.
  • 34. CJ, i. 152a.
  • 35. Bowyer Diary, 177.
  • 36. Hooker said the Speaker could appoint two or four, but the writer of a tract written shortly after 1604 says he could appoint just two: Hooker’s Order and Usage, 169; C. Strateman Sims, ‘Policies in Parls.’, 48.
  • 37. Strateman Sims, ‘Speaker’, 95; CJ, i. 240a.
  • 38. CJ, i. 312a-b.
  • 39. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 88; CJ, i. 450a.
  • 40. CD 1621, v. 11; Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 475-7.
  • 41. CJ, i. 162a, 224a, 262a, 313a. Phelips’ attendance at the committee for Goodwin’s case was required ‘not by commandment, but voluntary of himself’.
  • 42. For Hakewill’s view, see Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 298. The last cttee. to which the Speaker can be said to have been appointed was the committee for thanks, whose Members were ordered to attend Phelips after the House rose on 16 Mar. 1610: CJ, i. 412b. For the Speaker’s occasional exclusion from grand committees, see ibid. 459b, 704b.
  • 43. E.g. CJ, i. 510b, 873a.
  • 44. Ibid. 692a.
  • 45. Ibid. 331b.
  • 46. Strateman Sims, ‘Speaker’, 92.
  • 47. Procs. 1626, ii. 178, 190-1.
  • 48. CJ, i. 404b, 411b, 894a, 928b; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 386.
  • 49. CJ, i. 660b-1a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 296-8.
  • 50. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 323.
  • 51. Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 492.
  • 52. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 289, 292, 301; Bowyer, 82, n.2.
  • 53. W. Notestein, The House of Commons, 1604-10, pp. 490-3. Pauline Croft has fairly described Phelips as ‘the anxious executor of Salisbury’s directions’: P. Croft, ‘Parl., Purveyance and the City of London 1589-1608’, PH, iv. 25.
  • 54. Collection of Letters made by Sir Tobie Mathews (1660), p. 291.
  • 55. CJ, i. 166a, 318a; Bowyer Diary, 68. Ranulphe Crewe arrived equally late on the morning of 27 May 1614: CJ, i. 499a.
  • 56. Croft, 25-6.
  • 57. CJ, i. 427b; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 84-91, 98-9, 368-9. See also the entry on Sir Julius Caesar.
  • 58. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 84.
  • 59. For a detailed discussion, see Chapter 13 and also D.H. Willson, The Privy Councillors in the House of Commons, 1604-29, pp. 99-101.
  • 60. S. Lambert, ‘Procedure in the House of Commons in the Early Stuart Period’, EHR, xcv. 774.
  • 61. See Chapters 10 and 13.
  • 62. CJ, i. 629b, 804b.
  • 63. This happened on 17 Mar. 1626: CJ, i. 837b.
  • 64. CD 1628, iv. 480, 482; Procs. 1628, vi. 198.
  • 65. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 352.
  • 66. CJ, i. 141b, 1031b, 1032a.
  • 67. Laundy, 9.
  • 68. CJ, i. 158a.
  • 69. HMC Finch, i. 44.
  • 70. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 144-5.
  • 71. E.R. Foster, ‘Staging a Parl. in Early Stuart Eng.’ in The English Commonwealth ed. P. Clark, A.G.R. Smith and N. Tyacke, 135; LC5/132, p. 11; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 330; CJ, i. 882b.
  • 72. For the room’s use as dining chamber, see CJ, i. 391b (but cf. ibid. 1057b). For its use as a withdrawing chamber, see CJ, i. 429b, 933b; Procs. 1610, ii. 96-7.
  • 73. Hooker’s Order and Usage, 171.
  • 74. CD 1621, iv. 401. For evidence that Phelips practised between sessions, see C33/112, f. 11.
  • 75. Lambarde’s Notes, 70.
  • 76. Foster, ‘Staging a Parl.’, 141.
  • 77. Chamber Accts. of the Sixteenth Century ed. B.R. Masters (London Rec. Soc. xx), 39-40; D. Dean, ‘Public or Private? London Leather and Legislation in Elizabethan Eng.’, HJ, xxxi. 543, n.104; CLRO, Reps. 24, f. 153v.
  • 78. CLRO, Reps. 26/2, f. 320.
  • 79. CLRO, Reps. 29, f. 168.
  • 80. CLRO, Reps. 38, f. 129v.
  • 81. Dean, ‘Public or Private?’, 541.
  • 82. GL, ms 5174/3, f. 249v. Dean, citing Lambarde and Hooker, says the Speaker received payment only when a bill was enacted, but Lambarde actually states that the Speaker was entitled to payment before a bill was read, while Hooker fails to mention enactment. Dean himself admits that ‘this sum [i.e. the Speaker’s fee] was paid prior to the first reading’: Dean, ‘Public or Private?’, 541; Lambarde’s Notes, 70; Hooker’s Order and Usage, 171.
  • 83. CLRO Reps. 27, f. 363v; CJ, i. 349b.
  • 84. Recs. of the Carpenters’ Co. VII, 287; GL, ms 5442/5, unfol. 1613/14 acct.
  • 85. Devon RO, Exeter corp. arch. B1/6, f. 41A; HMC Exeter, 321.
  • 86. T. Girtin, The Golden Ram, 59.
  • 87. GL, ms 5606/2, f. 238v.
  • 88. CD 1621, iii. 441; v. 402.
  • 89. GL, ms 5606/2, ff. 192v-3. Dean notes that Coke also declined an offer of £10 made by the Brewers’ Company to defeat a bill which imposed restrictions on the selling of beer: Dean, ‘Public or Private?’, 543.
  • 90. For a fuller discussion of the clerk’s role in relation to the Speaker, see below.
  • 91. CJ, i. 331b.
  • 92. Ibid. 391a.
  • 93. Lambarde’s Notes, 70, n. 20.
  • 94. GL, ms 5174/3, f. 250; 5606/2, f.298v; ms 3054/1, unfol., 1621 acct.
  • 95. Dean, ‘Public or Private?’, 543-4; GL, ms 5442/5, unfol., 1614 acct.
  • 96. GL, ms 5442/5, unfol.
  • 97. GL, ms 5606/3, f. 188.
  • 98. Hants RO, E4/28, f. 40.
  • 99. SP16/96/36.
  • 100. HP Commons 1386-1421, i. 46; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 71.
  • 101. HP Commons 1558-1603, ii. 95.
  • 102. CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 24, 71.
  • 103. M.K. McIntosh, A Community Transformed: The Manor and Liberty of Havering 1500-1620, pp. 388, 422.
  • 104. Essex RO, D/B 3/3/217/8; D/B 3/1/19, f.151v.
  • 105. E403/2599, f. 62r-v; E. Stephens, Clerks of the Counties, 1360-1960, p. 84.
  • 106. Essex RO, D/B 3/397/10, 11; D/B 3/3217/8. The letter by Warwick is severely damaged. I owe the suggestion that it was written on behalf of Wright to Christopher Thompson.
  • 107. I owe this information to Christopher Thompson. See BL, RP 536, unnumbered photocopies, letters by Wright to Sir Nathaniel dated 24 May and 11 Oct. 1622.
  • 108. SP16/96/36.
  • 109. Hunts. RO, ddM24/4.
  • 110. In the language of his contemporaries he was clerk of the Parliament.
  • 111. GL, ms 5606/2, ff. 192v, 238v; 11571/10, f. 445.
  • 112. Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 350; CD 1621, iii. 384. My italics.
  • 113. CJ, i. 316a, 900b.
  • 114. LJ, ii. 673a; CD 1621, vi. 345.
  • 115. SP14/57/12.
  • 116. CJ, i. 422b, 603b.
  • 117. Strateman Sims, ‘Speaker’, 90. Only the chapters on the duties of the Speaker and the passing of bills have survived.
  • 118. Hooker’s Order and Usage, 172.
  • 119. HLRO, ms Jnl. 4.
  • 120. CJ, i. 1032b. William Holt and Sir Henry Montagu sat for Preston and London respectively.
  • 121. See for example HLRO, ms Jnl. 3.
  • 122. CJ, i. 520a; CD 1621, iii. 169.
  • 123. Hakewill, The Manner How Statutes are Enacted, 145.
  • 124. CJ, i. 287b, 301a.
  • 125. For this bill, see CJ, i. 419b, 428a, 433a, 434a.
  • 126. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 148.
  • 127. The printed Journal does, however, exaggerate the problem as its compiler omitted to include passages or words crossed out by Ewens which sometimes contain information on the passage of bills not recorded elsewhere in the Journal. See in particular HLRO, ms Jnl. 4, f. 268v, which shows that the John Theobald land bill received its 3rd reading on 11 June 1604.
  • 128. CD 1621, i. 104.
  • 129. CD 1628, i. 2 .
  • 130. CD 1621, i. 101, 104-7, 110.
  • 131. CJ, i. 159-60, 939-40.
  • 132. Ibid. 390b.
  • 133. C. Russell, ‘The Examination of Mr. Mallory’, in Unrevolutionary Eng. 84. Russell misread Mallory’s statement as a question rather than an answer: ibid. 87.
  • 134. CD 1628, ii. 513.
  • 135. CJ, i. 520a.
  • 136. Russell, ‘Mallory’, 87. He was seconded by Sir Peter Heyman, who had been sent to the Palatinate as a punishment for his utterances in the chamber three years earlier.
  • 137. CD 1628, ii. 512.
  • 138. Lambert, ‘Procedure’, 772.
  • 139. CD 1628, ii. 516-17.
  • 140. CJ, i. 161.
  • 141. Ibid. 208b; Add. 26635.
  • 142. Procs. 1610, ii. 88; CJ, i. 434b, 443a.
  • 143. CD 1621, i. 96; CJ, i. 583a.
  • 144. HMC Lords Addenda, n.s. xi. 204-7.
  • 145. Lambert, ‘Clerks and Recs. of the House of Commons’, 230.
  • 146. The 1621 book is printed in CD 1621, vi. 443-82. For the existence of an earlier book, see Foster’s observation in Procs. 1610, ii. 73.
  • 147. Notestein, 476; I. Temple, Petyt 583/13, ff. 52-133v. This volume presumably came into Petyt’s hands through Robert Bowyer, clerk of the parliaments. See also Observations, Rules and Orders of the House of Commons: An Early Procedural Collection ed. W.R. McKay (House of Commons Lib. Doc. No. 17), xliii-xliv.
  • 148. CD 1621, ii. 55; CJ, i. 517a. It is not known whether they were subsequently brought in. Many of Ewens’ papers did not come down to Wright.
  • 149. CJ, i. 371b, 536b.
  • 150. Ibid. 230b.
  • 151. Ibid. 663b, 1035a; CD 1628, ii. 36.
  • 152. CJ, i. 324a.
  • 153. Hooker’s Order and Usage, 172; Hakewill, The Manner How Statutes are Enacted (1671), p. 150; CJ, i. 695a.
  • 154. CJ, i. 813a.
  • 155. Ibid. 899a. However, the order adds that these documents might also be handed ‘to a serjeant-at-arms’. See below for a discussion of the duties of the serjeant and his servants.
  • 156. CJ, i. 298b, 451a, 807a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 239v. For a Member who failed to hand in a bill at the end of the 1614 Parl., see CJ, i. 517a.
  • 157. CJ, i. 333b-34a.
  • 158. Ibid. 807a.
  • 159. Foster, ‘Speaking in the House of Commons’, 55; CJ, i. 434b.
  • 160. CJ, i. 150a.
  • 161. CD 1621, ii. 63. For an example of an attempt by Members to persuade the clerk to read prayers before the arrival of the Speaker, see ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 32. For the clerk’s attempt to impose a quorum, see Chapter 9.
  • 162. CJ, i. 150a, 266b, 1031a-b. For the 1593 precedent, see D’Ewes, Jnls. of all the Parls. 470a.
  • 163. Hakewill, The Manner How Statutes are Enacted (1671), p. 137. See also Chapter 11.
  • 164. Bowyer Diary, 153.
  • 165. Hooker’s Order and Usage, 172.
  • 166. E403/2725, f. 140. For the provision of stationery and books to the clerk of the Parliament, see Foster, ‘Staging a Parl.,’ 137-8.
  • 167. F. Devon, Issues of the Exchequer, 100, 111.
  • 168. A01/1276, pt. 2, unnumbered paper book. This document, first noticed by E.R. Foster, was drawn up because the Long Parliament abandoned the system of flat-rate payment and authorized payment for what was actually provided.
  • 169. CJ, i. 514b.
  • 170. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 37; CJ, i. 508a, 671b, 799a, 817a.
  • 171. CJ, i. 468a, 714b; CD 1621, ii. 32.
  • 172. CJ, i. 731a. For a further example, see CD 1628, iii. 265.
  • 173. Hooker’s Order and Usage, 172; GL, ms 5606/2, ff. 192v, 238v, 298v. For a note by Wright which includes Members’ requests for copies in 1614, see Procs. 1614 (Commons), 471-2.
  • 174. E403/1699, unfol. (24 Feb. 1604); Devon, 100.
  • 175. For the fee payable and the clerk’s right to take it, see Bowyer Diary, 228. On the number of licences, see Chapter 9.
  • 176. CJ, i. 391a, 715a, 871b.
  • 177. Ibid. 247b.
  • 178. Hants RO, E4/28, f. 40. I am grateful to Eric Lindquist for providing me with a transcript of this document. For the serjeant-at-arms, see below.
  • 179. CJ, i. 167a, 891b.
  • 180. Lambarde’s Notes, 70, n.20; Hooker’s Order and Usage, 172.
  • 181. GL, ms 5606/2, ff. 192v, 238v, 298v; 5174/3, f.250; 3054/1, unfol. 1620-1 acct.
  • 182. Girtin, 59; Recs. of the Carpenters’ Co. VII, 287.
  • 183. Devon RO, Exeter corp. arch. B1/6, f.41A.
  • 184. GL, ms 7351/1, unfol. 1605-6 acct.; 3054/1, unfol. 1620-1 acct.; 11571/10, f. 445.
  • 185. Goldsmiths’ Hall, min. bk. xiv. pt.1, p. 453. It is unclear what prompted the Company to bestow this honour.
  • 186. GL, ms 5174/3, f. 250.
  • 187. GL, ms 3054/1, unfol. 1620-1 acct.
  • 188. GL, ms 5174/3, f. 250; 11571/10, f. 445.
  • 189. On Sayre, see CJ, i. 295b, 305a.
  • 190. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 59. Illustrations of the Commons’ interior made in the 1620s always show two clerks at the table.
  • 191. PROB 11/100, ff. 100-2.
  • 192. For Thomas the brewer, see GL, ms 5445/12, unfol. 3 Apr. 1606. A Richard ‘Tuder’ of Westminster, brewer, brought an action in the Court of Requests in 1621: REQ2/309/40. In his will of 1601, Fulke Onslow mentions that one of his servants was named Thomas Tidder: PROB 11/100, f. 101. For the 1604 bill, see GL, ms 5442/5, unfol.
  • 193. Tidder fell ill for two days in June, when he was replaced by a Mr. Parkinson: CJ, i. 232a, 233, note a.
  • 194. The elder Wright’s own Journal for the Westminster sitting has been described as ‘singularly incomplete’: Procs. 1625, p. 9.
  • 195. D’Ewes, Jnls. of all the Parls. 623; E403/2723, f. 98v. I am grateful to Sir John Sainty for drawing the latter reference to my attention.
  • 196. CJ, i. 202b; CD 1621, ii. 103.
  • 197. CD 1628, i. 2, 18 n. 111.
  • 198. CJ, i. 246b.
  • 199. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 59; CD 1621, v. 475
  • 200. See Chapter 7. For the 1593 evidence, see GL, ms 5606/2, f. 192v. I am grateful to Alasdair Hawkyard for suggesting that Ewens’ reference to the Court of Wards was a mistake for the Court of Requests.
  • 201. PROB 11/118, f. 121v.
  • 202. For a clear illustration see the two payments made to Grimston on 9 July 1614: E403/1717, unfol.
  • 203. C2/Chas.I/S97/25.
  • 204. Parl. Debates 1610 ed. S.R. Gardiner, 140.
  • 205. PROB 11/115, ff. 217-19; Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 285; C2/Chas.I/S97/25.
  • 206. CJ, i. 732a, 899a.
  • 207. Procs. 1610, ii. 364; Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 488; CJ, i. 391a.
  • 208. Surr. RO, Loseley ms 1331/33; CD 1621, ii. 231; GL, ms 6122, unfol. (23 Apr. 1621). In 1626 Grimston’s known servants included Henry Compton and a man named Day. Compton may have been the ‘Crompton’ who served as a messenger in 1628, when Grimston also employed John English: Procs. 1626, ii. 200, 366; CSP Col. E.I. 1625-9, p. 401; CJ, i. 898b; C2/Chas.I/S97/25.
  • 209. Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, ii. 403; Hants RO, E4/28, f. 13v. I am grateful to Eric Lindquist for this latter reference.
  • 210. Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, i. 532; CJ, i. 209b.
  • 211. CD 1621, v. 476-7.
  • 212. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 285. See also the frontispiece to E. Husbands, A Collection of all the Public Orders, Ordinances and Declarations of Both Houses (1646). The other symbol of royal authority in the Commons was the royal coat of arms, positioned above the Speakers’ chair, for which see Chapter 7.
  • 213. For examples, see Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 328; Bowyer Diary, 25.
  • 214. Robinson, ‘Breife Collection’, 10; CJ, i. 514b. Grosvenor’s suggestion that the serjeant should bear the mace over the summer in 1621 was rejected as unprecedented by Speaker Richardson: Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 144-5.
  • 215. Dean, ‘Public or Private?’, 542.
  • 216. In 1589 the Coopers’ Company paid 2s. 6d. to ‘the serjeant’s men that kept the two doors going into the Parliament House’: GL, ms 5606/2, unfol.; GL, ms 6122/1, Plaisterers’ Company accts., unfol. (31 Jan. 1606).
  • 217. GL, ms 6122/1, unfol. (23 Apr. 1621); Surr. RO, Loseley ms 1331/33.
  • 218. CJ, i. 532a, 891b, 892b; T. Crew, The Procs. and Debates of the House of Commons (1707), pp. 158, 163-4.
  • 219. D’Ewes, Jnls. of all the Parls. 468b; Cat. of the MSS of the I. Temple, ii. 761. See also CJ, i. 673a. For a discussion of the fees charged by the serjeant under Elizabeth, see N. Fuidge, ‘Some Sixteenth-Century Crown Office Lists at the Public Record Office’, BIHR, xlii. 207-8.
  • 220. CJ, i. 878a.
  • 221. Hooker’s Order and Usage, 141.
  • 222. CJ, i. 515a, 928a.
  • 223. Ibid. 259b, 260a. This duty was sometimes thought to lie with the warden of the Fleet, for which see below.
  • 224. CJ, i. 909b.
  • 225. Strateman Sims, ‘Speaker’, 95.
  • 226. Foster, ‘Speaking in the House of Commons’, 55; Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 403. The serjeant addressed the House only six times between 1604 and 1629.
  • 227. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 7.
  • 228. CJ, i. 170b; C2/Chas.I/S97/25.
  • 229. CJ, i. 731b, 732a.
  • 230. Ibid. 763a.
  • 231. Ibid. 556a; CD 1621, i. 169-70.
  • 232. CJ, i. 561b.
  • 233. Ibid. 495b.
  • 234. Procs. 1625, pp. 298, 360.
  • 235. CJ, i. 204a.
  • 236. Ibid. 535b; CD 1621, iv. 122.
  • 237. CD 1621, v. 201.
  • 238. Ibid. ii. 132, n.24.
  • 239. CJ, i. 920b.
  • 240. CD 1621, vi. 453.
  • 241. A diarist writing in March 1610 records that an errant constable was held ‘within the serjeant’s house’: Procs. 1610, ii.58.
  • 242. CJ, i. 333b.
  • 243. Ibid. 621b; CD 1621, iii. 253; Procs. 1625, pp. 340, 359.
  • 244. Bowyer Diary, 308; CJ, i. 919b.
  • 245. CJ, i. 486a. For further examples, see CD 1621, vi. 457; CJ, i. 523a, 819a.
  • 246. The beneficiary was Sir Francis Hobart: CJ, i. 416a.
  • 247. Surr. RO, Loseley 1331/33.
  • 248. CJ, i. 188a, 962b, 442b, 444b, 602b, 650a, 693a, 860b, 891a, 925b; Bowyer Diary, 25, 341. The exceptions are 1614 and 1625.
  • 249. Hooker’s Order and Usage, 186.
  • 250. CJ, i. 262b.
  • 251. GL, ms 5606/2, f.152v. The sum paid was 16d., but this also included the Company’s boat-hire.
  • 252. CSP Col. E.I. 1625-9, p. 401.
  • 253. See ‘Keepers’ below.
  • 254. Surr. RO, Loseley 1331/33.
  • 255. Devon, 69; E403/2730, f. 85. The serjeant’s role as a purchaser of supplies may explain two payments made to Grimston made in 1622 and 1629, the first of which was described ‘as a reward for the expenses incurred’ and the second as a reward ‘for service by him performed to His Majesty’: Devon, 256; E403/2747, f. 162v.
  • 256. CTB, 1717, pp. 320-1, 724. I owe these references to Sir John Sainty.
  • 257. E407/123, unnumbered item, 23 Mar. 1576. There is no evidence that these items were supplied by the Wardrobe. For a more detailed discussion of this document, see Chapter 7.
  • 258. D’Ewes, Jnls. of all the Parls. 507.
  • 259. Ibid. 497, 502; CJ, i. 456a; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 441.
  • 260. Cat. of MSS in the I. Temple, ii. 686.
  • 261. CJ, i. 810a.
  • 262. Dean, ‘Public or Private?’, 534, 541.
  • 263. E351/3258, unfol.; 351/3261, unfol.
  • 264. CPR, 1575-8, p. 76.
  • 265. CJ, i. 249b, 391a; Surr. RO, Loseley ms 1331/33.
  • 266. A further 2s. was also payable to his men. Cat. of the MSS of the I. Temple, ii. 761; Hooker’s Order and Usage, 174; Lambarde’s Notes, 70, n. 20.
  • 267. GL, ms 5606/2, f. 192v; 5442/5, unfol., 1603/4 acct.
  • 268. GL, ms 5606/2, ff. 152v, 238v; D’Ewes, Jnls. of all the Parls. 451-2.
  • 269. GL, ms 15333/2, pp. 359, 409.
  • 270. Cat. of the MSS of the I. Temple, ii.761. Hunt did not say whether the same rate was charged to those who defended legislation in the same way.
  • 271. Chamber Accts. of the 16th Century, 39-40.
  • 272. CJ, i. 428a. Paulet records that he paid 20s. to the pursuivant who was sent to fetch him that year: Hants RO, E4/28, f.13v.
  • 273. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 128.
  • 274. Cat. of the MSS of the I. Temple, ii. 762.
  • 275. Add. 34218, f. 20.
  • 276. C2/Chas.I/S07/25.
  • 277. E.R. Foster, The Painful Labour of Mr. Elsyng (Trans. of the American Philosophical Soc., n.s. lxii. pt. 8), 11; Hooker’s Order and Usage, 161-2. I am grateful to Sir John Sainty for suggesting that Hooker may have been misled by the relationship between Mason and Powle.
  • 278. CJ, i. 274, 308, 312-13, 388, 389, 410, 453.
  • 279. Cat. of MSS in the I. Temple, ii. 705
  • 280. Soc. Antiq. ms 26, ff. 3, 18.
  • 281. A.F. Pollard, ‘Clerk of the Crown’, EHR, lvii. 332; Procs. in Parls. of Eliz. I, iii. 353.
  • 282. HP Commons 1558-1603, i. 280, 299; Woodstock Bor. ms B79/1, f. 77v, which records the payment of 8s. to ‘the clerk of the Parliament’ [sic] for filing Woodstock’s 1625 indenture. In 1584 London paid 12s. for filing its indenture, which perhaps reflects the fact that the City enjoyed the right to return four rather than two Members: Chamber Accts. of the 16th Century, 39-40. The fees exacted by the clerk of the Crown were examined in December 1627, but no mention was made of the rates demanded for services performed in Parliament: E215/236.
  • 283. Lansd. 486, f. 123v.
  • 284. C193/32/14-17 cover the Parls. 1624-8. The lists for 1604, 1614 and 1621 are missing.
  • 285. CJ, i. 816a; C193/32/16, f.4v.
  • 286. Hants RO, E4/28, f. 40 (transcript kindly provided by Dr. Eric Lindquist).
  • 287. CJ, i. 381b. On 5 Apr. 1626 the Commons ordered the clerk of the Crown to perfect his book that afternoon, at which time a roll-call was due to be held: ibid. 843b.
  • 288. CJ, i. 151b.
  • 289. CD 1628, ii. 168, 188.
  • 290. CJ, i. 392b. In 1624 a query raised by the deputy clerk of the Crown at the committee was referred to the House by Sir Thomas Wentworth: ibid. 745a. John Sparke was one of the Members for Mitchell.
  • 291. CJ, i. 820b; CD 1621, v. 509.
  • 292. CD 1628, ii. 135-6; iii. 123; iv. 177-8. For further instances of instructions being issued to the clerk of the Crown to produce documents, see CJ, i. 596b; Procs. 1625, p. 376; CD 1628, ii. 480. On the Commons’ right to inspect royal records, see Chapter 1.
  • 293. GL, ms 5174, f. 7. The reference to Benbow is misleading, as he had died in the previous year. For his will, which was proved on 16 Dec. 1625, see PROB 11/147, ff. 333v-4v. Benbow seems to have been succeeded as deputy by both Edward Phillips and Francis Williams/Williamson. On Phillips, see C219/40/62; CD 1628, iv. 177, 199. On Williams/Williamson, see CD 1628, iv. 190; CD 1629, p. 181; E215/236.
  • 294. In 1623 a joiner was paid £13 8s.4d. to construct in the Tower’s ‘Office of Records’ a large press ‘to put the ancient bills of Parliament therein’: E351/3256.
  • 295. CJ, i. 435a-b; Procs. 1610, ii. 378.
  • 296. HLRO, HL/PO/JO/10/1/17, ff. 37, 340.
  • 297. CJ, i. 300a. For the House’s earlier order to Robert Bowyer, keeper of the records, to attend, see ibid. 296a.
  • 298. CJ, i. 637a; Nicholas, ii. 159. In May 1628 the House ordered the payment of £10 more to the clerks of the Tower for augmentation’: CJ, i. 898b.
  • 299. Surr. RO, Loseley 1331/33.
  • 300. Ibid.; CJ, i. 898a-b. On Bradshaw, see Officers of the Exchequer comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 176; Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 432; ii. 4.
  • 301. CJ, i. 391a, 904b; Surr. RO, Loseley 1331/33. For the increased use of the duchy chamber for committees, see Chapter 7.
  • 302. GL, ms 5606/2, f. 303v; Devon RO, Exeter corp. arch. B1/6, f.41A; GL, ms 5442/5, unfol.
  • 303. LMA, ACC/1876/G/01/10/4. In 1628 the hospital’s lobbyists gave the ushers of the Court of Wards 6s.: LMA, ACC/1876/G/01/10/5
  • 304. For the Brewers, see GL, ms 5442/5, unfol.
  • 305. A. Jessopp, The Oeconomy of the Fleete (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxv), pp. viii.-ix.; J.S. Burn, Fleet Regs. 22-3. The warden was responsible for maintaining the fabric of Westminster Hall: H. Colvin, King’s Works, iv. pt. 2, p. 296; Devon, 146. However, he was not the only official to be described as keeper of Westminster Palace. In March 1602 a patent of the keepership was issued to John Whynyard and his son, neither of whom ever served as warden: PSO5/2, unfol.; SP14/76/44 (payments to the elder Whynyard as keeper 1610-14). The lord chamberlain evidently controlled the use of space within the Old Palace. How far the duties of these various officers conflicted with one another is unclear. The standard work on the keepership is unsatisfactory: C.T. Clay, ‘The Keepership of the Old Palace of Westminster’, EHR, lix. 1-21.
  • 306. CD 1621, iii. 275, 375. Hakewill was referring to the Ordinances to regulate the Fleet prison, issued in 1562. However, these omit to mention that the warden was subordinate to the Commons: Jessopp, 157-9.
  • 307. For evidence relating to 1641, see CJ, ii. 65, 88, 141. I am grateful to Jason Peacey for these references.
  • 308. E351/3254, 3248, 3251, 3255. His employer is uncertain because several men were described as keeper of Westminster Hall (see above).
  • 309. CJ, i. 391a.