[Court of] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT. [Common Council.]376

[Court of] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT. [Common Council.]

bers of this Court of Common Council. But after three days Debate, they found little Success in their Business. And the foresaid Bellamy, being one of the Committee, delivered a long Speech Feb. 24, to give an Account to the Court, how, in his Judgment, he conceived the Right and Truth therein did stand. Which was afterwards by him printed, and called, A Plea for the Commonalty of London; or, a Vindication of their Rights, (which have been long time witholden from them) in the Choice of sundry City Officers. As also a Justification of the Power of the Court of Common Council, in making of Acts or By Laws, for the Good and Profit of the Citizens, notwithstanding the negative Votes of the Maior and Aldermen, fully proved by several Charters granted to the City, &c. Therein he shewed, how the Charters of ancient Kings to the City, all ran To the Maior, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the City of London; or To the Maior and Commonalty of the City of London: He reminded them of the Charter of Edward III. in the 15th of his Reign; where the Maior and Aldermen, with the Assent of the Commonalty, have Power, as to explain, so as to amend the old, or to make new Laws, for the common Benefit of the Citizens. And before him, of that of King John, in the first of his Reign; and of King Edward II. in the 12th of his Reign; where the sole Power, both to elect and to amove the Sheriffs, the Chamberlain, the Common Clerk, and the Common Serjeant, is wholly left to the Pleasure of the Commonalty, without any Reference to the Maior and Aldermen. Thus it was clear, he said, that the Commonalty had by the Charters an equal Share with the Maior and Aldermen, in the Privileges granted to the City. And if there were any Difference, as there was in the Choice of City Officers, the Advantage was unto the Commons.

Then he went about to prove it by Practice; shewing, that all the Acts of Common Council, which were the City's Laws, were made, as in the joint Names, so by the joint Power, of the Maior, Aldermen, and Common Council. And gave some particular Instances of Things done by the Power of this Court. As, March 4, 1641, the removing of Deputy Alden from being a Member of that Court. Sept. 5, 1642, the putting away of Mr. John Weld from being Town Clerk of this City. Feb. 18, 1642, the expelling of Thomas Wiseman, the City Remembrancer, out of this Office. April 21, 1643, the amoving of divers Aldermens Deputies from their Place of Deputyship. And all by the joint and concurrent Power and Authority of the Lord Maior, Aldermen, and Commons, in this Common Council assembled. That the determinative Power of this Court, is in the Plurality of the Votes of the Maior, Aldermen, and Commons conjunctim. And that the Lord Maior and Aldermen have in this Court no more Power of a negative Voice, than other single Persons. For which he brought this Instance: Febru. 17, 1641, a Petition was brought into this Court, directed only To the Lord Maior and Aldermen; and because it was not directed To the Lord Maior, Aldermen, and Commons, in Common Council assembled, this Court refused to take any Cognizance of it. But then Sir Richard Gurney, Maior, with the major Part of the Aldermen then present, in that Common Council, would have the Court to admit of that Petition; and the Court refusing, the Lord Maior and Aldermen would have the Court divided, and numbred by Poll: and so it was done. And there were for the Petition, the Lord Maior and seven Aldermen, and sixty one Commoners, and against the Petition, five Aldermen, and eighty five Commoners. And thus the Members of this Court, both Aldermen and Commoners, being reckoned together by the Poll on both sides, as Members of this Court, the Question was determined, the Petition rejected, and the Power and Authority of this Common Council maintained.

But whereas it was objected, that the Choice of some City Officers had been time out of mind in the Power of the Maior, or Aldermen, and not in the Commonalty; he answered, That it was confessed, that a great while the Choice of these, (as the Sheriff to be chosen by the Lord Maior's Prerogative, and the Common Clerk and Common Serjeant by the Court of Aldermen) and some other City Officers, have been suffered to run along in these Chanels of pretended Prerogative, and unwarrantable Custom; but from the Beginning it was not so. And if this were given away by Consent, as I will not, added he, deny, but our Forefathers in their Times might be persuaded, upon specious Shews, and peradventure, in their Esteem, upon solid Reasons, to make over a Part of their Power into the hands of the Lord Maior and Aldermen; yet, if Reason and just Cause require, the Power of this Council may assume it again into the hands of the Commonalty. As it did upon the like Cause, June 21, 1643, reassume the sole Power of chusing the Chamberlain and Bridge-Master.

This was the Sum of Bellamie's Speech in the Common Council. Whereupon the Difference about the City's Privileges were by Order of the Court of Common Council, referred to a Committee of Aldermen and Commoners, to consider of some Expedient for reconciling thereof. And the Committee after several Debates, concluded upon a probable means for the ending of it. And April 24 following, brought in their Report; and upon reading thereof, the whole Court did approve it. And hence perhaps the Elections stand upon the present foot.

The Commonalty oftentimes, and at these Meetings, I suppose, when they were minded to have certain Inconveniences redrest, or good Orders made for the preserving of their Liberties, and the like, did formerly use to petition the Maior and Aldermen. Some of these Petitions I have seen in the Records of the Chamber. I shall specify one or two in the Reign of King Edward II.

The Commonalty used formerly to petition the Maior and Aldermen.

J. S.


Petitiones Communitatis.

 

DIE Mecurii, &c. "On Wednesday before the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, in the fifth Year of the Reign of King Edward, Son of King Edward, a Congregation of the honest Men of the City was made, present John de Gisors, Maior, William Servat, John de Wengrave, Nigell Drury, &c. Aldermen; wherein they prayed the Articles underwritten."

Petitions of the Commonalty, Lib. Horn.

"First, That no Stranger for the time to come be admitted to the Freedom of the City, unless by the Consent of the Commonalty, or in a commom Congregation, or in a full Husting, the Commonalty present."

"Also, that no Letters, by which the Commonalty may or ought to be charged, or obliged toward any thing, be made for the time to come, nor sealed by the Seal of the Commonalty, before the Commonalty be met together for this purpose; and they yield unanimous Consent to it."

"Also it was petitioned, that the Common Seal for the time to come, remain in some common Chest, under six Locks. Of which three Aldermen have three Keys, and three honest Men of the Commonalty, the three other Keys."

Whence