April 4, 1687

It having pleased Almighty God not only to bring us to the imperial crown of these kingdoms through the greatest difficulties but to preserve us by a more than ordinary providence upon the throne of our royal ancestors, there is nothing now that we so earnestly desire as to establish our government on such a foundation as may make our subjects happy, and unite them to us by inclination as well as duty; which we think can be done by no means so effectually as by granting to them the free exercise of their religion for the time to come, and add that to the perfect enjoyment of their property, which has never been in any case invaded by us since our coming to the Crown; which, being two things men value most, shall ever be preserved in these kingdoms during our reign over them as the truest methods of their peace and glory.

We cannot but heartily wish, as it will easily be believed, that all the people of our dominions were members of the Catholic Church. Yet we humbly thank God it is, and hath of long time been, our constant sense and opinion (which upon divers occasions we have declared) that conscience ought not to be constrained, nor people forced in matters of mere religion; it has ever been directly contrary to our inclination, as we think it is to the interest of government, which it destroys by spoiling trade, depopulating countries and discouraging strangers; and finally, that it never obtained the end for which it was employed…

We therefore, out of our princely care and affection for all our loving subjects, that they may live at ease and quiet, and for the increase of trade and encouragement of strangers, have thought fit by virtue of our royal prerogative to issue forth this our declaration of indulgence, making no doubt of the concurrence of our two Houses of Parliament when we shall think it convenient for them to meet.

In the first place we do declare that we will protect and maintain our archbishops, bishops and clergy, and all other our subjects of the Church of England in the free exercise of their religion as by law established, and in the quiet and full enjoyment of all their possessions, without any molestation or disturbance whatsoever.

We do likewise declare that it is our royal will and pleasure that from henceforth the execution of all and all manner of penal laws in matters ecclesiastical, for not coming to Church, or not receiving the sacrament, or for any other nonconformity to the religion established, or for by reason of the exercise of religion in any manner whatsoever, be immediately suspended; and the further execution of the said penal laws . . . is hereby suspended.

And to the end that by the liberty hereby granted the peace and security of our government in the practice thereof may not be endangered, we have thought fit, and do hereby straitly charge and command all our loving subjects, that we do freely give them leave to meet and serve God after their own way and manner, be it in private houses or places purposely hired or built for that use, so that they take especial care that nothing be preached or taught amongst them which may any ways tend to alienate the hearts of our people from us or our government; and that their meetings and assemblies be peaceable, openly and publicly held, and all persons freely admitted to them; and that they do signify and make known to some one or more of the next justices of the peace what place or places they set apart for those uses..

And forasmuch as we are desirous to have the benefit of the service of all our loving subjects, which by the law of nature is inseparably annexed to and inherent in our royal person, and that none of our subjects may for the future be under any discouragement or disability (who are otherwise well inclined and fit to serve us) by reason of some oaths or tests that have been usually administered on such occasions, we do hereby further declare that it is our royal will and pleasure that the oaths commonly called the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and also the several tests and declarations mentioned in the acts of parliament made in the 25th and 3oth years of the reign of our late royal brother King Charles II [i.e. the Test Acts of 1673 and 1678] shall not at any time hereafter be required to be taken, declared or subscribed by any person or persons whatsoever, who is or shall be employed in any office or place of trust, either civil or military, under us or in our government. And we do further declare it to be our pleasure and intention from time to time hereafter to grant our royal dispensation under our great seal to all our loving subjects so to be employed, who shall not take the said oaths, or subscribe or declare the said tests or declarations, in the above-mentioned acts and every of them…


May 18, 1688

The humble petition of William archbishop of Canterbury [Sancroft] and of divers suffragan bishops of that province [St. Asaph, Bath and Wells, Bristol, Chichester, Ely, and Peterborough] now present with him, in behalf of themselves and others of their absent brethren, and of the clergy of their respective dioceses,

Humbly sheweth,

That the great averseness they find in themselves to the distributing and publishing in all their churches your Majesty’s late declaration for liberty of conscience proceedeth neither from any want of duty and obedience to your Majesty, our Holy Mother, the Church of England, being both in her principles and constant practice unquestionably loyal nor yet from any want or due tenderness to dissenters, in relation to whom they are willing to come to such a temper as shall be thought fit when that matter shall be considered and settled in parliament and Convocation, but among many other considerations from this especially, because that declaration is founded upon such a dispensing power as hath often been declared illegal in parliament, and particularly in the years 166z, 1672, and in the beginning of your Majesty’s reign, and is a matter of so great moment and consequence to the whole nation, both in Church and State, that your petitioners cannot in prudence, honour or conscience so far make themselves parties to it as the distribution of it all over the nations, and the solemn publication of it once and again even in God’s house and in the time of His divine service, must amount to in common and reasonable construction.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly and earnestly beseech your Majesty that you will be graciously pleased not to insist upon their distributing and reading your Majesty’s said declaration.


June 30, 1688

We have great satisfaction to find by Russell and since by M. Zuylestein that your Highness is so ready and willing to give us such assistance as they have related to us. We have great reason to believe we shall be every day in a worse condition than we are, and less able to defend ourselves, and therefore we do earnestly wish we might be so happy as to find a remedy before it be too late for us to contribute to our own deliverance; but although these be our wishes, yet we will by no means put your Highness into any expectations which might misguide your own councils in this matter; so that the best advice we can give is to inform your Highness truly both of the state of things here at this time and of the difficulties which appear to us.

As to the first, the people are so generally dissatisfied with the present conduct of the Government in relation to their religion, liberties and properties (all which have been greatly invaded), and they are in such expectation of their prospects being daily worse, that your Highness may be assured there are nineteen parts of twenty of the people throughout the kingdom who are desirous of a change and who, we believe, would willingly contribute to it, if they had such a protection to countenance their rising as would secure them from being destroyed before they could get to be in a posture to defend themselves.

It is no less certain that much the greatest part of the nobility and gentry are as much dissatisfied, although it is not safe to speak to many of them beforehand; and there is no doubt but that some of the most considerable of them would venture themselves with your Highness at your first landing, whose interests would be able to draw great numbers to them whenever they could protect them and the raising and drawing of men together. And if such a strength could be landed as were able to defend itself and them till they could be got together into some order, we make no question but that strength would quickly be increased to a number double to the army here, although their army should remain firm to them; whereas we do upon very good grounds believe that their army then would be very much divided among themselves, many of the officers being so discontented that they continue in their service only for a subsistence (besides that some of their minds are known already) and very many of the common soldiers do daily show such an aversion to the popish religion that there is the greatest probability imaginable of great number of deserters which would come from them should there be such an occasion; and amongst the seamen it is almost certain there is not one in ten who would do them any service in such a war.

Besides all this, we do much doubt whether the present state of things will not yet be much changed to the worse before another year

These considerations make us of the opinion that this is a season in which we may more probably contribute to our own safeties than hereafter…. We who subscribe this will not fail to attend your Highness upon your landing and to do all that lies in our power to prepare others to be in as much readiness as such an action is capable of, where there is so much danger in communicating an affair of such a nature till it be near the time of its being made public. But, as we have already told your Highness, we must also lay our difficulties before your Highness, which are chiefly that we know not what alarm your preparations for this expedition may give, or what notice it will be necessary for you to give the States beforehand, by either of which means their intelligence or suspicions here may be such as may cause us to be secure before your landing. And we must presume to inform your Highness that your compliment upon the birth of the child (which not one in a thousand here believes to be the Queen’s) hath done you some injury…

If upon due consideration of all these circumstances your Highness shall think fit to adventure upon the attempt, or at least to make such preparations for it as are necessary (which we wish you may), there must be no more time lost in letting us know your resolution concerning it, and in what time we may depend that all the preparations can be so managed as not to give them warning here. .

signed by Shrewsbury, Devonshire, Danby, Lumley,

the Bishop of London, Edward Russell and Henry Sidney.


September 30, 1688

…We cannot any longer forbear to declare that, to our great regret, we see that those counsellors who have now the chief credit with the King have overturned the religion, laws, and liberties of those realms and subjected them in all things relating to their consciences, liberties and properties to arbitrary government…

Those evil counsellors for the advancing and colouring this with some plausible pretexts did invent and set on foot the King’s dispensing, power by virtue of which they pretend that, according to the law, he can suspend and dispense with the execution of the laws that have been enacted by the authority of the king and parliament for the security and happiness of the subject and so have rendered those laws of no effect…

Those evil counsellors, in order to the giving some credit to this strange and execrable maxim, have so conducted the matter, that they have obtained a sentence from the judges declaring that this dispensing power is a right belonging to the Crown; as if it were in the power of the twelve judges to offer up the laws, rights and liberties of the whole nation to the King, to be disposed of by him arbitrarily and at his pleasure…

It is likewise certain that there have been, at divers and sundry times, several laws enacted for the preservation of those rights and liberties, and of the Protestant religion; and, among other securities, it has been enacted that all persons whatsoever that are advanced to any ecclesiastical dignity, or to bear office in either university, as likewise all others that should be put into any employment civil or military should declare that they were not papists, but were of the Protestant religion, and that, by their taking of the oaths of allegiance and Supremacy, and the Test: yet those evil counsellors have, in effect, annulled and abolished all those laws, both with relation to ecclesiastical and civil employments…

[those evil counsellors] have not only without any colour of law, but against the express laws to the contrary, set up a commission of a certain number of persons, to whom they have committed the cognizance and direction of all ecclesiastical matters; in the which commission there has been, and still is, one of his Majesty’s ministers of state, who makes now public profession of the Popish religion [Sunderland]…

and those evil counsellors take care to raise none to any ecclesiastical dignities but persons that have no zeal for the Protestant religion, and that now hide their unconcernedness for it under the specious pretence of moderation…

The Declaration then instances the favouritism of papists, the pressures on the clergy and local government, the forfeiture of the charters and the trial of the seven bishops as grievances against the ‘evil counsellors’ of James II and continues:

Both We ourselves and our dearest and most entirely beloved Consort the Princess have endeavoured to signify in terms full of respect to the King the just and deep regret which all these proceedings have given us…

The last and great remedy for all those evils is the calling of a parliament, for securing the nation against the evil practices of those wicked counsellors; but this could not be yet compassed, nor can it be easily brought about: for those men apprehending that a lawful parliament being once assembled, they would be brought to an account for all their open violations of law, and for their plots and conspiracies against the Protestant religion, and the lives and liberties of the subjects, they have endeavoured, under the specious pretence of liberty of conscience, first to sow divisions amongst Protestants, between those of the Church of England and the dissenters. . . . They have also required all the persons in the several counties of England that either were in any employment, or were in any considerable esteem, to declare beforehand that they would concur in the repeal of the Test and penal laws; and that they would give their voices in the elections to parliament only for such as would concur in it…

But, to crown all, there are great and violent presumptions inducing us to believe that those evil counsellors, in order to the carrying on of their evil designs, and to the gaining to themselves the more time for effecting of them, for the encouraging of their complices, and for the discouraging of all good subjects, have published that the Queen hath brought forth a son; though there hath appeared both during the Queen’s pretended bigness, and in the manner in which the birth was managed, so many just and visible grounds of suspicion that not only we ourselves, but all the good subjects of those kingdoms, do vehemently suspect that the pretended Prince of Wales was not born by the Queen…

And since our dearest and most entirely beloved Consort the Princess, and likewise ourselves, have so great an interest in this matter, and such a right, as all the world knows, to the succession to the Crown… and since the English nation has ever testified a most particular affection and esteem both to our dearest Consort the Princess and to ourselves, we cannot excuse ourselves from espousing their interests in a matter of such high consequences; and from contributing all that lies in us for the maintaining both of the Protestant religion and of the laws and liberties of those kingdoms; and for the securing to them the continual enjoyments of all their just rights: to the doing of which we are most earnestly solicited by a great many lords, both spiritual and temporal and by many gentlemen and other subjects of all ranks.

Therefore it is that we have thought fit to go over to England and to carry with us a force sufficient, by the blessing of God, to defend us from the violence of those evil counsellors; and we, being desirous that our intention in this may be rightly understood, have, for this end, prepared this declaration, in which we have hitherto given a true account of the reasons inducing us to it; so we now think fit to declare that this our expedition is intended for no other design but to have a free and lawful parliament assembled as soon as possible…

We do, in the last place, invite and require all persons whatsoever, all the peers of the realm, both spiritual and temporal, all lords lieutenants, deputy lieutenants, and all gentlemen, citizens, and other commons of all ranks, to come and assist us, in order to the executing of this our design, against all such as shall endeavour to oppose us, that so we may prevent all those miseries which must needs follow upon the nation’s being kept under arbitrary government and slavery, and that all violences and disorders, which may have overturned the whole Constitution of the English government, may be fully redressed in a free and legal parliament…


September 28, 1688

We have received undoubted advice that a great and sudden invasion from Holland, with an armed force of foreigners and strangers, will speedily be made in a hostile manner upon this our kingdom; and although some false pretences relating to liberty, property, and religion, contrived or worded with art and subtlety may be given out (as shall be thought useful upon such an attempt) it is manifest however (considering the great preparations that are making) that no less matter by this invasion is proposed and purposed than an absolute conquest of our kingdoms and the utter subduing and subjecting us and our people to a foreign power, which is promoted (as we understand, although it may seem almost incredible) by some of out subjects, being persons of wicked and restless spirits, implacable malice, and desperate designs, who having no sense of former intestine distractions, the memory and misery whereof should endear and put a value upon that peace and happiness which hath long been enjoyed; nor being moved by our reiterated acts of grace and mercy, wherein we have studied and delighted to abound towards our subjects, and even towards those who were once our avowed and open enemies, do again endeavour to embroil this kingdom in blood and ruin, to gratify their own ambition and malice, proposing to themselves a prey and booty in such a public confusion.

We cannot omit to make it known that although we had notice some time since that a foreign force was preparing against us, yet we have always declined any foreign succours, but rather have chosen (next under God) to rely upon the true and ancient courage, faith, and allegiance of our own people, with whom we have often ventured our life for the honour of this nation and in whose defence against our enemies we are firmly resolved to live and die. And therefore we solemnly conjure our subjects to lay aside all manner of animosities, jealousies and prejudices, and heartily and cheerfully to unite together in the defence of us and their native country, which they alone will (under God) defeat and frustrate the principal hope and design of our enemies, who expect to find a people divided, and by publishing perhaps some plausible reasons for their coming hither, as the specious, though false, pretences of maintaining the Protestant religion, or asserting the liberties and properties of our people, do hope thereby to conquer the great and renowned kingdom. But albeit the design hath been carried on with all imaginable secrecy and endeavours to surprise and deceive us, we have not been wanting on our part to make such provision as did become us and by God’s blessing we make no doubt of being found in so good a posture that our enemies may have cause to repent such their rash and unjust attempt.

We did intend (as we lately declared) to have our parliament in November next and the writs are issued forth accordingly, proposing to ourselves, amongst other things, that we might be able to quiet the minds of all our people in matters of religion, pursuant to our several declarations we have published to that effect, but in regard of this strange and unreasonable attempt from our neighbouring country (without any manner of provocation) designed to divert our said gracious purposes, we find it necessary to recall our said writs . . . And forasmuch as the approaching danger now is at hand we call on all our subjects (whose ready concurrence, valour, and courage as true Englishmen we no way doubt in so just a cause) to be prepared to defend their country; And we do hereby command and require all Lords Lieutenants and Deputy Lieutenants to use their best and utmost endeavours to resist, repel, and suppress our enemies who come with such confidence and quiet preparations to invade and conquer these our kingdoms. And lastly we do most expressly and strictly enjoin and prohibit all and every of our subjects of what degree and condition soever from giving any manner of aid, assistance, countenances or succour, or from having or holding any correspondence with these our enemies or any of their accomplices upon pain of high treason, and being prosecuted and proceeded against with the utmost severity.


February 13, 1689

Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, judges, and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion and the laws and liberties of the kingdom.

  1. By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws, and the execution of laws, without the consent of parliament.
  2. By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly petitioning to be excused concurring to the said assumed power.
  3. By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the Great Seal for erecting a court called the Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes.
  4. By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative, for other time and in other manner than the same was granted by parliament.
  5. By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without the consent of parliament and quartering soldiers contrary to the law.
  1. By causing several good subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to the law.
  2. By violating the freedom of election by members to serve in parliament.
  3. By prosecutions in the Court of King’s Bench for matters and causes cognizable only in parliament; and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses.
  4. And whereas of late years, partial, corrupt, and unqualified persons have been returned and served on juries in trials, and particularly divers jurors in trials for high treason, which were not freeholders.
  5. Excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of laws made for the liberty of the subjects.
  6. And excessive fines have been imposed; and illegal and cruel punishments inflicted.
  7. And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures, before any conviction or judgment against the persons, upon whom the same were to be levied.

All which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and statutes and freedom of this realm.

And whereas the said late King James the Second having abdicated the government, and the throne being thereby vacant, his Highness the Prince of Orange (whom it hath pleased Almighty God to make the glorious instrument of delivering this kingdom from popery and arbitrary power) did (by the advice of the lords spiritual and temporal, and divers principal persons of the Commons) cause letters to be written to the lords spiritual and temporal, being Protestants; and other letters to the several counties, cities, universities, boroughs, and Cinque Ports, for the choosing of such persons to represent them, as were of right to be sent to parliament, to meet and sit at Westminster upon January 22, 1689…

And thereupon the said lords spiritual and temporal and Commons

…do in the first place (as their ancestors in like case have usually done) for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and liberties, declare:

    1. That the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal.
    2. That the pretended power of dispensing with laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal.
    3. That the commission for erecting the late Courts of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes and courts of like nature are illegal and pernicious.
    4. That levying money for or to the use of the Crown, by pretence of prerogative, without grant of parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is, or shall be granted, is illegal.
    5. That it is the right of the subjects to petition the King, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal.
    6. That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of parliament, is against law.
    7. That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.
    8. That election of members of parliament ought to be free.
    9. That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.
    10. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    11. That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders.
    12. That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void.
    13. And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, parliaments ought to be frequently held.

And they do claim, demand, and insist upon all and singular the premisses, as their undoubted rights and liberties; and that no declaration, judgments, doings or proceedings, to the prejudice of the people in any of the said premisses, ought in any wise to be drawn hereafter into consequence of example.

To which demands of their rights they are particularly encouraged by the declaration of His Highness the Prince of Orange, as being the only means for obtaining a full redress and remedy therein.

Having therefore an entire confidence that his said Highness the Prince of Orange will perfect the deliverance so far advanced by him, and will still preserve them from the violation of their rights, which they have here asserted, and from all other attempts upon their religion, rights, and liberties.

The said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, assembled at Westminster do resolve that William and Mary, Prince and Princess of Orange be, and be declared, King and Queen of England, France, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, to hold the Crown and royal dignity of the said kingdoms and dominions to them the said Prince and Princess during their lives, and the life of the survivor of them; and that the sole and full exercise of regal power be only in, and executed by the said Prince of Orange, in the names of the said Prince and Princess, during their joint lives; and after their deceases, the said Crown and royal dignity of the said Kingdoms and dominions to be to the heirs of the body of the said Princess; and for default of such issue to the Princess Anne of Denmark and the heirs of her body; and for default of such issue to the heirs of the body of the said Prince of Orange. And the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons do pray the said Prince and Princess to accept the same accordingly.